Court rules that sending copy of background check report satisfies FCRA requirement

A Pennsylvania district court found that an employer’s pre-adverse notification requirement only extends as far as sending the letter to the applicant and that confirming receipt of the letter is not considered part of the employer’s obligation.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) cites that if a prospective employer intends to make an adverse hiring decision, based in part or in whole, on the findings of a background check, the employer is required to provide pre-adverse action notification. This notification includes a copy of the background check and a summary of rights under the FCRA. In the case of Wright v. Lincoln Property Company, the definition of the term “provide” was analyzed more closely by the court to determine the exact responsibility of the employer.

The plaintiff in the case applied for a maintenance technician position at Lincoln Property Company. A background check was conducted by a third-party vendor and an “in-progress” copy of the check was sent to the plaintiff at the address he supplied at the time of his application. The plaintiff stated he never received the report and therefore alleged that Lincoln was in violation of FCRA statutes concerning pre-adverse action notifications.

The court however ruled that company did indeed fulfill its obligation under the FCRA. The statute requires the employer to “provide” the information to the applicant but it does not specify that an employer needs to ensure receipt of this information. Upon this ruling, Lincoln moved for a summary judgment which was subsequently denied. The court stated that it was questionable as to whether supplying the applicant with the in-progress version of the background check sufficed per FCRA stipulations despite the fact that there were no significant differences between the in-progress and the final versions of the report.

Source: Consumer Financial Services – Law Monitor, 2/24/2017

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