California Federal Court Rules in Favor of Employer in Case Involving FCRA

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted an employer's motion for summary judgment, rejecting the plaintiff's claims of Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) violations.

In Keefer v. Ryder Integrated Logistics, Inc., the plaintiff applied for a position and as part of the process, Ryder Integrated provided the plaintiff with a disclosure and authorization form. The disclosure language read as follows: "By signing below, you hereby authorize the Company to procure report(s) on your background as described above from any third-party or consumer reporting agency contacted by the Company." The plaintiff signed the disclosure.

When the plaintiff sued Ryder Integration for being in violation of the FCRA, he argued that the disclosure was not clear and conspicuous and was not contained in a standalone document. Ryder Integrated moved for summary judgment which was granted by the district court.

As to whether the disclosure satisfied the FCRA's "clear and conspicuous" requirement, the court held that terms and phrases such as "third-party or consumer reporting agency" and "the Company" were clear and not confusing. The plaintiff also argued that the multiple disclosures used violated the FCRA's conspicuous requirement. The district court rejected this argument as well, concluding that the disclosure was "readily noticeable" to the consumer despite the use of multiple disclosures in the same document.

Furthermore, the district court also determined that the disclosure satisfied the standalone document requirement, rejecting the plaintiff's contention that the company's logo, trademark, navigation buttons and FAQ hyperlink were extraneous information. The court also rejected the plaintiff's argument that the inclusion of a clause stating that "the Company" could request reports about education, credit history, or character was extraneous. Conversely, the district court found that the contested clause merely offered the applicant useful information regarding how his consumer report may be used.

Employers are encouraged to review disclosure and authorization forms to ensure these documents meet the "clear and conspicuous" and "stand-alone" requirements of the FCRA.

Posted: March 8, 2023

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