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Improper Employment Background Checks

Have you been denied employment on the basis of a criminal background check or credit check?  If so, it is important to know your rights.

Employers are limited in their ability to obtain background checks and credit reports on employees and job applicants.  The Fair Credit Reporting Act imposes two basic limitations on employers:

  • Employers must get proper permission to conduct a background check or credit check on job applicants or employees.  The authorization form must be in a stand-alone document which is separate from the job application and must not ask employees to release any claims or waive any rights.  The law is very specific about the form of the authorization that is required, and many employers do not obtain proper authorization;

  • Employers must provide job applicants or employees with a copy of the background check or credit report before taking adverse action, such as not hiring someone, demoting someone, or firing someone.  This requirement ensures that the employee has the ability to challenge inaccuracies in the report.

If employers willfully violate any of these rules, they are liable for actual damages, punitive damages, and statutory penalties of up to $1,000 per violation.  Moreover, even if employers follow all of these basic rules, they may still violate federal and state civil rights laws by automatically denying jobs to persons with criminal records or low credit scores, regardless of their individual circumstances and other qualifications.

Unfortunately, it is all too common for many employers – including some of the nation’s largest companies – to ignore these laws.  According to a recent study published by the National Employment Law Project, “the nation’s largest employers are either unaware of civil rights and consumer protections for people with criminal records or are indifferent to them.”

If you believe that your rights have been violated, our law firm may be able to help. We are currently prosecuting a class action lawsuit against Domino’s Pizza for allegedly violating the rights of its employees in connection with unauthorized background checks that were not provided to employees.  We are also investigating other companies that may have engaged in similar conduct.  If you believe that you may have been the victim of an improper background check or that your credit report may have been improperly used by your employer, please contact us to take action.