Employers routinely conduct background checks on job applicants. These background checks include contacting former employers to pulling credit reports and criminal records. However, in order to lawfully conduct a background check, employers are required to comply with strict statutory requirements, such as obtaining your written authorization prior to conducting the background check. The law that governs this area is the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”), and if your employer failed to follow the requirements mandated by FCRA, you may be entitled to recover actual damages or an award of up to $1,000, plus punitive damages and recovery of attorneys’ fees and costs.
Prior to conducting your background check, did your employer set forth in a separate document that consists solely of a disclosure that it is going to conduct a background check? If not, you may be entitled to damages.
Did your employer take any “adverse action” (e.g., decline employment, terminate employment, etc.) against you based on a background check without first providing the above disclosures to you? If so or if your employer failed to give you a reasonable amount of time to review the disclosures, it could be in violation of the FCRA, again, entitling you to damages.
If you feel your employer did not obtain your written consent for a background check and/or there has been a misuse of your background check by your employer or prospective employer or if you have any questions or concerns about the same, contact the attorneys at Haeggquist & Eck, LLP.