For 50 years employers and potential employers have been required – under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) – to give you a separate notice, for you to read and sign, when it plans to obtain a consumer report about you. Many organizations obtain these reports but fail to strictly follow FCRA requirements. Employees whose rights are violated can recover substantial damages against an employer, potential employer or reporting agency.
Why does the law strictly regulate the use of background reports? Because the reports are often inaccurate, and because they’re regularly used to illegally discriminate against employees and job candidates.
Information Reports Covered by the FCRA
Your rights have been violated if an employer or prospective employer, without providing you a separate specific notice and getting your permission, obtained a report from a consumer reporting agency and then used it to deny you an opportunity. Not only must companies get your advance permission, they must give you a copy and inform you of your rights if they used it against you.
Information reports covered by the FCRA include but are not limited to the following:
- Criminal history searches
- Driving records
- Educational and employment history verifications
- Reference checks
- Reputation in the community
- Medical records or payments
- Residential or tenant history
- Check writing history
- Credit reports
- Insurance claims (for health and workers’ compensation)
Most employers use the same companies to obtain these reports. This includes the big three credit agencies – Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. But it also includes many others, such as Telecheck, ChoicePoint, Acxiom, Innovis, LexisNexis, Central Credit, Teletrack, the MIB Group and the United Health Group.
Telltale Signs Your FCRA Rights Were Violated
Here’s how to tell if a prospective employer violated your legal rights in obtaining a background report:
- The employer failed to give you an FCRA notice and consent form before obtaining the information.
- The FCRA notice you got wasn’t a separate form, all by itself without any unrelated wording. It cannot be part of the job application or other document.
- The form asked you to waive your legal rights to sue for use/misuse of the report.
- The employer didn’t clearly tell you it used the report to deny you employment, didn’t give you a copy of the report, and/or didn’t give you a statement of your rights.
- The employer didn’t give you a chance to correct inaccurate information before it used the report against you.
If your rights are violated you can recover – from either the reporting agency, from the employer, or both, depending on the violations – actual losses from the denial of the job, punitive damages, attorneys’ fees and costs. These are serious violations of employee rights and they come with serious consequences for violators.
Employee Rights Lawyer – Florida and Georgia