Court Rules Screening Society Did Not Violate FCRA
Written by ESR news blog editor Thomas Ahearn
On February 8, 2022, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that a tenant screening company did not “willfully or negligently” violate the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by providing a background check report containing a non-conviction record more than seven years from the date of the charge.
The original lawsuit filed in 2011 alleged that the tenant screening company released a background check report that included a non-conviction record prior to the report for more than seven years in violation of the FCRA. The company argued that the record was included because it was less than seven years after the charge was dismissed.
Pursuant to Section 1681c(a)(5) of the FCRA, the section titled “Consumer Report Information Requirements [15 U.S.C. § 1681c]” bed: (a) Information Excluded from Consumer Reports. (5) Any other adverse information, other than felony conviction records, that predates the report by more than seven years.
In 2013, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – both agencies that enforce the FCRA – have filed a amicus brief supporting the plaintiff’s argument that the seven-year period for non-conviction records began at the time of the charge and not at the time of the dismissal.
However, the Ninth Circuit upheld the dismissal of plaintiff’s claim: “Defendant presented evidence that its interpretation met industry standards. The FTC’s only guidance on the matter at the time (although discussing the law prior to the 1998 amendment) seemed to flag the accusation,” reads the opinion.
The Ninth Circuit also found no evidence of negligence or intent: “We cannot say, nor can any other reasonable investigator, that on this record, defendant’s violation of § 1681c(a)(5) was negligent. , even less voluntary”, the opinion concluded, and the District Court’s grant of summary judgment to the Tenant Screening Company was affirmed.
Adopted in 1970, the FCRA promotes the accuracy, fairness, and privacy of consumer information contained in filtering company files, protects consumers from the willful and/or negligent inclusion of inaccurate information in their consumer reports, and regulates the collection, dissemination and use of consumer information.
Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – a service offering ClearStar, a leading technology-based service provider Human Capital Integrity℠, specializing in background, credit and medical screening, offers background check services that help employers comply with the FCRA. To learn more, contact ESR today.
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