Background Check Lawsuits
Last Updated on January 11, 2022
At A Glance
- 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?
- You may be able to recover money for any harm you suffered as a result of the error, such as a lost deposit or job, along with attorneys' fees and an additional award up to $1,000. You may also be eligible for what's known as punitive damages, which are an additional amount of money awarded to the person filing the lawsuit and intended to serve as a punishment for the defendant.
- 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 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:
- 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.
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.
While it has become increasingly difficult to bring cases where the employer failed to provide clear disclosure that a background check was being run or neglected to give the applicant a copy of his or her report, attorneys working with ClassAction.org believe that people in California may still be able to take legal action if this happened to them.
What Could I Get From a Lawsuit?
If your lawsuit is successful, you may be entitled to:
- Up to $1,000 in statutory damages, which are a standard award set by the FCRA
- 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
- Money for damage incurred as a result of the error, such as a lost deposit or job
How ClassAction.org Can Help
If you were denied a job or apartment because of your background check, fill out the form on this page. 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.
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