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Background Check Lawsuits

This Alert Affects:

Anyone who was turned down for a job or an apartment because of their background check.

What's Going On?
Attorneys working with ClassAction.org are talking to these people to help them determine whether they can file lawsuits.
Who Can I Sue?
The company you applied to, the background check company or the tenant screening company.
What Can I Get from a Lawsuit?
Up to $1,000 damages, plus attorneys' fees.
How Much Does It Cost to Talk to a Lawyer?

If you had to undergo a background check and didn’t get the job or apartment you were looking for because of it, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the company that ran the report or the company you applied to for work. To find out whether you have a case, fill out the form on this page. It’s free to contact us and to talk to the lawyers we work with about your rights.

Background Check Laws:
Why You May Be Able to File a Lawsuit

Lawsuits Against Employers

You may be able to sue the company you applied to if:

You didn’t know the company was running a background check.

Companies are required to inform their job applicants that they’ll be running background checks. This disclosure is required under a federal law known as the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The company must notify the job applicant in writing that a background check will be run – and this notice can’t be hidden in the employment application. It must be separate from all other paperwork.

You knew the company was running a background check on you, but you didn’t give written permission.

Even if the company notified you in writing that a background check would be performed, it must still get your written authorization before running the report.

You never got a copy of the report.

If you didn’t get a job because of your background check, the employer must send you a copy of the report. This includes instances in which you were turned down for employment or had your job offer rescinded after the background check was run. You should also receive a document titled “A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.” In some cases, job applicants are never contacted by the employer and have no idea why they didn’t get the job.

Lawsuits Against the Background Check and Tenant Screening Companies

You may be able to sue the company that ran the report – for either employment or apartment rental purposes – if:

The wrong person’s information was on your report.

Background check companies can make mistakes. In some cases, the background check or tenant screening company will confuse two people’s identities. This can happen when people have similar names or birthdays. In many cases, the companies are not checking Social Security numbers to ensure they’ve pulled the right file.

Job and apartment applicants who noticed false information on their background checks often wrongly believe that they have been victims of identity theft when, in reality, it was an error by the company that ran the report.

Dismissed, old or expunged charges are showing up on your report.

Under the “seven-year rule,” the following information cannot show up on your report if it took place seven or more years ago:

  • Evictions
  • Arrests
  • Dismissed charges, including DUI cases 
If your conviction, dismissal or arrest has been expunged or pardoned, this information should not show up on your criminal background check.

Some companies don’t update their records often enough and, in turn, report expunged charges.

There’s an error or discrepancy in your file.

In some cases, a person with a pristine history will have a crime, felony, conviction or arrest mistakenly show up on their report. There are also cases in which the background check or tenant screening company prints the same incident twice on a report, making the applicant look worse.

What Could I Get From a Lawsuit?

If your lawsuit is successful, you may be entitled to:

  • Up to $1,000 in statutory damages
  • Punitive damages, which are an additional monetary award given to the plaintiff to punish the defendant and discourage other companies from violating the FCRA
  • Attorneys’ fees and costs

How ClassAction.org Can Help

If you were denied a job or apartment because of your background check, fill out this form. After you get in touch, an attorney may reach out to you directly. He or she can explain your rights and help determine whether you have a case. It doesn’t cost anything to contact us or the attorneys we work with. Plus, you don’t have any obligation to file a lawsuit even if the attorney thinks you have grounds for a lawsuit.

Sep 23, 2013
Newly Filed / Newly Settled

Rite Aid, Background Checks, and Applicants' Rights

by Staff

Rite Aid is facing a class action lawsuit over its use of background checks during the hiring process, amid claims job applicants aren't given a chance to defend themselves from accusations of theft.… More

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Case Resources

Mack v. Panera, LLC. Complaint
Read a lawsuit filed against Panera that claims job applicants did not receive separate authorization and consent forms to have background checks performed.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
Read the federal law that protects the rights of consumers with regard to background and credit report checks.
A Summary of Your Rights Under the FCRA
Read the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) summary describing your rights under the Act.