Background checks are one of many ways employers identify eligible applicants. Especially in large companies, researching every individual who applies is a costly and time-consuming process. In the last decade, dozens of background check companies have popped up across the world. These companies bear a great deal of responsibility, because mistakes on a background check can cost someone credit, housing or employment opportunities.
Despite the faith employers have in the background check industry, companies sometimes report incorrectly. When that happens, it’s important to know what the consumer can do to fix it.
Employment and the FCRA
Incorrect background checks can cost someone an opportunity for a new job or even their current job. For that reason, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) protects consumers and promotes the accuracy of private consumer information. The FCRA considers background checks “consumer reports” and gives applicants legal recourse when information is wrong.
There are generally a few important steps involved in compliance with the FCRA. First and foremost, an employer must obtain consent to conduct a background check. Finally, when an employer intends to make an adverse employment decision based upon a background report they must provide advance notice and make a copy of the background report available to you for review in order to dispute any errors.
Mistakes on background checks can cause you to be denied credit, housing, or employment. Below are the three most common background check errors:
- Incorrect Criminal Record – Criminal record information such as disposition information (for example, “guilty” instead of “not guilty”), or incorrect severity (for example, misdemeanors represented as felonies).
- Outdated Information – If a criminal record or conviction is expunged or sealed, it should not appear on a background report.
- Mistaken Identity – Criminal records belonging to someone with the same or similar name ending up on someone else’s report.
Any of these mistakes can be detrimental to a consumer and could cost them their current or future job.
Checkr, a Silicon Valley-based company, has handled background checks for major companies like Uber and Lyft since 2014. These companies rely on Checkr to provide accurate information about an applicant’s job, driving, and criminal history.
The FCRA requires background check companies to complete these records with “maximum possible accuracy.” Along with keeping up with background checks (roughly 1.5 million per month), Checkr is now facing numerous FCRA lawsuits from people claiming that Checkr has put out incorrect background reports, which have cost people their current jobs and even future jobs.
Since 2015, Checkr alone has faced at least 80 lawsuits under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. While 80 lawsuits out of 1.5 million may not seem like a lot, you can attribute most of these small numbers to consumer’s lack of knowledge about their rights under the FCRA. In fact, those 80 lawsuits make Checkr the most frequently sued out of any background check company.
Companies that frequently use Checkr are in turn subject to related suits. In particular, Uber is facing its own class action lawsuit alleging that the use of Checkr discriminates against drivers by using their criminal history reports to determine workability.
What to Do
In the event that you are denied a job due to errors on your background check, follow these steps.
- Request a copy of the background report. Even if the employer declined your application, you have a legal right to the information.
- Dispute the report with the background reporting agency. Maintain an accurate record of any communication with the company.
- Wait for the agency. They have 30 days to investigate the claim and 5 days to notify you of the results.
- Opt-out of arbitration if applicable to preserve your legal rights.
- Contact a consumer protection attorney. If your claim is not properly investigated, or the results do not represent factual information, don’t delay in your legal action.
Representation for Background Check Errors
In the past few years, our firm has successfully resolved cases involving individuals who have been denied employment because of inaccurate background reports. If you or someone you know is a ride-sharing service employee impacted by an incorrect background check by Checkr, we want to speak with you.
Even if you are not an employee of Uber or Lyft, but have been impacted by any incorrect background check, we can help. Feel free to contact our firm by phone (919) 526-0450 or email us through our contact page