Litigation

BMW Settles with the EEOC for a Hefty $1.6M

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One of the high profile class action cases we’ve been tracking in the wake of the EEOC enforcement guidance on criminal background records in 2012 has just settled. BMW has agreed to pay out $1,600,000 to claimants and offer to rehire the 56 plaintiffs in the case brought by the EEOC. The claimants sued BMW in June of 2013, alleging race discrimination in its hiring practices—specifically its use of criminal background checks. Those individuals, if rehired, must be reinstated without any loss of seniority, and will be given credit for increases in rank, wages and benefits over the time period of the case.

The consent decree is a 3 year agreement, and it applies to hiring at Defendant’s Facility in Spartanburg County, South Carolina. It includes contractors hired by third parties referred in the decree as “Logistics Labor Providers.” You can read the full text of the decree here.

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Judge Titus Channels Inner Kenny Rogers in $1 Million EEOC Rebuke

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Image Courtesy of United Artists Records

U.S. District Court Judge Roger Titus chose to open his memorandum opinion with the timeless lyrics from Kenny Rogers’ hit song, “The Gambler”, on why he found the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was liable for nearly $1,000,000 in attorney’s fees for their overzealous prosecution of Freeman Companies.

Come on. You know the song. Sing along with me. “You better know when to holdem’, know when to foldem'”.

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Colorado Supreme Court Upholds Firing of Medical Marijuana User

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Lately, when it comes to substance abuse screening, the first question employers always ask us is whether it’s legal to deny employment or fire someone who tests positive for drugs even though they have a prescription for medical marijuana in a state where pot smoking is legal. Thanks to a unanimous 6-0 decision by a Colorado court the answer appears to be, yes.

As you probably know, the state of Colorado has legalized the use of marijuana, both for medical and recreational purposes. However, the state also allows employers to establish their own drug-testing policies.

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Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Spokeo: Class Action Attorneys Shudder

Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Spokeo Case

Should a consumer who has not been harmed by a statutory violation be entitled to bring a claim on behalf of themselves or a class of individuals? That is the question that the United States Supreme Court has agreed to consider by granting the petition for writ of certiorari in Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, No. 13-1339 (U.S.) I know, this sounds like I’m setting you up for one of the most boring posts I’ve ever written, but stick with me. Whether you know it or not, this question matters to employers more than you might know.

Case Background

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FCRA Case Dismissed! Court says LinkedIn is not a CRA

 

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LinkedIn is off the hook. A California district court has dismissed a class action lawsuit filed against the business networking site. The full decision can be found here. The popular social network was sued last year by job seekers who claimed that LinkedIn’s Reference Searches cost them jobs. The theory of the case was that LinkedIn should be treated like other background screening companies–a theory that was successful against another website, Spokeo.

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Litigation Update: FCRA Claim Against Paramount is Thrown Out

Background Checks Paramount Gets FCRA Claim Thrown Out

Finally, a voice of reason. Employers got some good news from a judge in the Northern District of California last week, when the court granted Paramount Picture’s motion to dismiss a class action claim for alleged Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) violations. The case was one of the many class actions that have been flooding the federal courts, disputing the validity of the disclosure form used for running a background check. This wave of litigation has erupted over the past twelve months, putting employers on the defensive against FCRA claims seeking millions in statutory and punitive damages.  The judge’s decision to dismiss the case against Paramount is a welcome development, and may be a turning point for employers facing FCRA class actions of this type.

The plaintiff alleged that Paramount violated the FCRA’s requirements for disclosure of consumer reports. The specific code section, 15 U.S.C. § 1681b, provides that before conducting a background check, an employer must make a “clear and conspicuous disclosure”, “in a document that consists solely of the disclosure” (emphasis added). The plaintiff alleges that Paramount violated the above provision of the FCRA by including some extraneous information in its disclosure form—namely a certification that the information provided by the plaintiff was true and correct.

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Litigation Update: Sports Bar and Grill Hit with Class Action

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Beef ‘O Brady’s has been served with a class action complaint for alleged violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The U.S. sports bar and grill is being targeted for now-familiar claims surrounding the company’s authorization and disclosure for employment background checks. (more…)

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Appellate Court To EEOC: No Soup for You!

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You might recall last August that we posted about celebrated Judge Roger Titus’ stinging comments directed at the EEOC when he dismissed their case against Freeman Companies for what the commission alleged as discriminatory hiring practices related to Freeman’s use of criminal background checks and credit reports. He used the words “Laughable”, “Unreliable”, “Mind Boggling”. No Soup for You!

Instead of heeding Judge Titus’ remarks and conceding their overreach, EEOC appealed his ruling to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. At issue was the testimony of the EEOC’s expert witness, Dr. Kevin Murphy, which was excluded by the lower court. In this regard, Judge Titus was unrestrained when it came to his opinion. (more…)

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Litigation Update: Transportation Firm Served With FCRA Class Action

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Genwest/Gencom Transportation LLC has been served with a class action complaint for alleged violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the California Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act (ICRAA) as well as a discrimination claim. The US transportation, warehousing, and distribution firm is being targeted for now-familiar claims surrounding the company’s authorization and disclosure for an employment background check. (more…)

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Litigation Update: Home Depot Hit for Employment Background Checks

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Home Depot has been hit with another class action lawsuit[1] alleging violations of federal law based on its employment background screening practices. The mega home improvement store is facing a second Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) lawsuit—this one filed in the Northern District of Georgia on February 11, 2015. The focus of the present case is, like many other cases we have seen in recent weeks, the portion of the FCRA that requires a “clear and conspicuous disclosure” about the background check that is made in writing “in a document that consists solely of the disclosure.” (more…)

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