employment background screening, FCRA, lawsuit, Starbucks

Starbucks in Hot Water Over Background Checks?

America’s favorite coffee house may be in hot water over recent allegations that it denied a Colorado man a job after his background check returned inaccurate information.  He is suing the chain for violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

In March of 2016, plaintiff Jonathan Santiago Rosario claims Starbucks denied him a job based on a background check that returned several crimes committed in Pennsylvania, some of which included violent and drug-related charges.  Rosario also alleges that the company failed to give him an opportunity to correct the report.  By the time he received their letter dated April 20, 2016 advising that his background report did not meet the company’s standards, Rosario had already been removed from consideration for employment.

On his own, Rosario took the necessary steps to remove the charges from his background report through the consumer reporting agency (CRA) that ran the report, and on May 19th that CRA forwarded a copy of the corrected report to Starbucks.

The coffee chain, however, declined to change its mind about hiring Rosario, prompting him to seek legal relief.

The FCRA governs background screening and exists to protect workers; advise employers of their obligations and responsibilities under it; and give guidance to the CRAs who perform the background checks.  Consumers and job seekers in the United States should be aware that the FCRA grants them certain protections, including, but not limited to:

  • The right to know what is contained in their background report
  • The right to request and obtain all of the information in their consumer report file for free if adverse action has been taken against them or if they have been the victim of fraud or identity theft
  • The right to dispute incomplete or inaccurate information (and the CRA has an obligation under the FCRA to investigate)
  • The right to have inaccurate information removed from their report within 30 days
  • The right to know when a background report is going to be run on them – permission must be given, in writing, for an employer to run a background report. Without that written permission, the employer cannot hold anything in the report, negative or otherwise, against the applicant.

Rosario, the plaintiff in the Starbucks case, proposes to represent a nationwide Class that would include people in the U.S. who applied for a job at Starbucks and who were the subject of a Starbucks background check report on which the company based an adverse employment decision, but who did not receive a copy of that report or the FCRA summary of rights.  He is seeking an award of actual, statutory, and punitive damages for himself and the plaintiff Class yet to be established, along with reimbursement of court costs and attorney fees.

We at The Cedalius Group, the employment background screening provider you can trust, are dedicated to ensuring FCRA compliance at all times.  We understand the law, and we take all necessary steps to protect both our clients and their candidates.  If you have questions about your company’s FCRA compliance where background screening is concerned, please give us a call today at 404.963.9772 or visit our blog for more information.

The Cedalius Group offers insight into the background screening industry for educational purposes.  We always recommend you consult with your legal counsel to determine practices that best suit your business needs.