Employees who turn in an application to an employer may not realize they have significant rights under federal law – even if they are not hired. Employers who decide to use consumer background checks, including criminal history or credit reports, to make a hiring decision must follow a very strict set of rules to do so.
First of all, they must inform you of their intent and get your permission. Your authorization for access to this information must be clear and separate from any other consent forms. In the event that an employer is not going to hire you because of what is turned up in reports, you must be given notice and time to rectify any mistakes.
These are only a few of the requirements set forth by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), and an increasing number of employers are being held liable for violations. According to recent reports, Paramount Pictures is the most recent big offender in a string of class action lawsuits related to FCRA violations in the hiring process. The motion picture production company has been accused of failing to inform candidates of its intent to delve into their consumer, credit, and criminal histories. The class action alleges that there were very strict policies and practices that were not followed by the company.
One plaintiff applied for an unspecified position at the company in 2011, but just recently learned that the company accessed a consumer report for employment purposes. They failed to provide him with disclosure and appropriate authorization forms to access the report. Since an initial investigation took place, it is likely that there are hundreds, even thousands of other applicants who suffered the same violations of the FCRA. Paramount, like Whole Foods and Publix which paid a $6.8 million settlement, is being accused of failing to meet its obligations and responsibilities under FCRA.
When you apply for a job, it is important to know your rights about background checking. In the age of the Internet, employers will have increasing access to your personal history, including credit reports, criminal records, tax issues, past addresses, lawsuits, court records and other personal documents. Remember that you do have the right to know whether any of this information is being used against you in the hiring process.
The current class is estimated at more than 500 applicants and the representatives are seeking statutory damages between $100 and $1,000 for each violation of the FCRA. In addition to statutory damages, the class is seeking to collect punitive damages and legal fees from the company. The class has not yet been approved by the courts, but if it is, the plaintiff and former job seekers at Paramount could recover significant damages.
Our Orange County employment law attorneys are dedicated to protecting individuals at all points in the employment process, from application and hiring, during the course of employment, and in the event of termination or after a job is completed. We will review your case, identify your legal options and help you recover the compensation you deserve.
Employment lawsuits can be filed with assistance from the Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Los Angeles, Riverside, and Orange County. Call 714-937-2020.
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