A lawsuit is pending against a background check company that provided an inaccurate employment screening report highlights the importance of not only following the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), but also the laws within the applicable state which may extend beyond the FCRA.
In Martin v. First Advantage Background Services Corp., U.S. District Court Judge Michael Davis allowed claims under the FCRA and the Minnesota Business Screening Services Act that the background check company did not respond adequately to the plaintiff claims that the information reported in the employment background check was incorrect. However, Davis dismissed claims for defamation and negligence.
The Plaintiff had pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of impersonating a police officer after a sheriff’s uniform was found in his car. He received a one year probation sentence and after successful completion, the charge was dismissed. The record was later expunged.
The FCRA requires that an applicant has the right to dispute the validity of the information contained within the employment screening report. If the applicant disputes the validity of a report, adverse action cannot be taken, until a reinvestigation has been completed, and the results of the report are undisputable. The background check company has the responsibility to reinvestigate applicant disputed information.
It is critical certified copies of records are obtained by the court, to ensure whether a re-check of the investigation is valid or not. And, if further investigation indicates the applicant dispute is accurate, it is a requirement of the FCRA, the report is corrected and reported back to the client.
While it is the background check company obligation to investigate disputed reports, it is also the responsibility of the employer to follow the FCRA and state laws regarding adverse action decisions and disputes found within the background screening report.
Many employers will conduct criminal searches using national or state databases, and this can be problematic since updated case dispositions or expunged cases may have not been reported to these databases, thereby reporting invalid information. The most current case information comes from a county court search and should always be used for accuracy.
Be sure your organization follows adverse action procedures and maintain this consistency as part of your employment screening program.