The Leland Stanford Junior University is staring down a proposed class action lawsuit wherein the plaintiff claims the private research institution procured her background report for employment purposes without obtaining proper authorization to do so.
The case explains the plaintiff, a dining hall worker at the university, filled out a standard application in applying for the job that included lending permission for the defendant to obtain a report verifying the woman’s background and experience. According to the lawsuit, however, the plaintiff was confused by the school’s standard job application form in that she did not understand the university would be requesting a consumer report as it is defined by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
The complaint says the defendant’s standard job application form states:
“I authorize a thorough investigation of my prior employment, education background, criminal record, and where applicable to a position, credit check and/or driving record. I agree to cooperate in such an investigation, to execute any consent forms required in connection with those investigations, and release form [sic] all liability and responsibility all persons or entities requesting or supplying such information. I understand that employment is conditional based on investigation results.”
Among the alleged FCRA violations committed by the university is its inclusion of a liability release provision in the above language. The lawsuit specifies it is unlawful under the FCRA to procure a consumer report for employment purposes without:
Providing a clear and conspicuous disclosure in writing in a standalone document before the report has been pulled that a consumer report may be obtained for employment purposes; and
Obtaining authorization in writing from a consumer for whom a report will be procured.
Per the lawsuit, Leland Stanford Junior University’s failure to provide a clear disclosure in a standalone document consisting solely of the disclosure and without extraneous information oversteps FCRA guidelines.