The Fair Credit Reporting Act protects job applicants

Recent lawsuits in Virginia have highlighted the frequency of FCRA violations across the country.

When job applicants are seeking employment, they are typically given a significant amount of paperwork to complete throughout the process. Many of the documents applicants are asked to sign are required by law to protect their interests.

When potential employers fail to adhere to the requirements of certain laws, such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act, job applicants should take action to ensure their rights are safeguarded.

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act - or FCRA - employers are required to provide notice to job applicants, on a separate document, if they are intending to conduct a background check. The information gathered in a background check can include a criminal history and credit reports. In addition, potential employers must obtain the job applicant's consent before performing the background check.

If information in the background report may result in the employer making an adverse employment decision regarding the job applicant, the employer is then required to inform the applicant. This step is referred to as pre-adverse notice. If the employer then decides to take action based, in part, on information from the background report, the employer is again required to provide notice to the job applicant.

Large companies accept settlements in FCRA suits in Virginia

Recently, a number of large companies have accepted settlements in cases involving FCRA violations in Virginia.

For instance, Dollar General agreed to settle a class action lawsuit alleging FCRA violations for a little over $4 million. The suit was brought by two job applicants, who contended that the company failed to provide current notices indicating it was going to perform a background check. In addition, the suit alleged that the company failed to provide pre-adverse notification, as required by the FCRA. Currently, a Virginia federal court is reviewing the settlement to provide preliminary approval.

In addition, Lexis Nexis has reportedly agreed to a $20.7 million settlement in another class action suit involving FCRA violations. The settlement - thought to be one of the largest when it comes to such violations - stemmed from purported breaches of the FCRA requirements for consumer reporting agencies.

Lexis Nexis performs background checks for potential employers. The company was required to provide contemporaneous notification to job applicants when a potential employer accessed criminal records in the company's database. According to the suit, the company provided notice to applicants via the mail; therefore, it typically took a number of days before they were informed that a potential employer had sought access to their criminal record.

Under the FCRA, credit reporting agencies are also required to investigate information in the report that consumers dispute within 30 days. The class action suit also contended that Lexis Nexis failed to abide by that 30-day investigation period, as the company would often fail to begin the investigation until the consumer returned a form to the company. The proposed settlement is currently before the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Despite agreeing to the settlements in both cases, neither Dollar General nor Lexis Nexis admitted to any FCRA violations.

Obtain skilled legal representation

If you believe a potential employer has failed to abide by the provisions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you need a qualified legal representative working on your behalf. In such situations, it is a good idea to consult with a knowledgeable consumer protection attorney, who will work diligently to ensure your rights are safeguarded.

Keywords: FCRA, lawsuit, job applicant, employer, background check