After allegedly breaking the Fair Credit Report Act (FCRA) by taking back a job offer based on the discovery of a criminal conviction, Johnson & Johnson and staffing agency Kelly Services are now facing a putative class action filed this week in Pennsylvania federal court.
Plaintiff T. Jason Noye accused the two entities of violating the FCRA when they acquired his consumer reports without properly letting him know, “in a document that consists solely of the disclosure,” that they would be obtained and why. The complaint alleges J&J offered Noye a job, but then revoked the offer upon finding his criminal background information in the consumer report. Noye says he also was not given the chance to review nor contest the criminal findings that were used as weight against his hiring by the potential employers.
“Plaintiff contends that defendants systematically violate … the FCRA by using consumer reports to make adverse employment decisions without, beforehand, providing the person who is the subject of the report sufficient and timely notification and a copy of the report and a summary of rights under the FCRA, effectively leaving the person who is the subject of the report without any opportunity to correct any errors on the report or to even know who prepared the background report about him or her which formed a basis for the adverse action,” the lawsuit stated.
The FCRA, not to be confused with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), is a piece of legislation created with the intention of restricting how consumers’ information can be used. According to the FCRA, any consumer reporting agency must not only provide any information in your file to you upon your request, but also limit the information given to any party lacking express permission to view it. Many times, companies request this information during an evaluation of a potential client, but unless the consumer provides consent, it cannot be assessed.
The complaint alleges when Noye accepted the position as “operations manager” for J&J, Kelly Services sent him a disclosure letter with improper and superfluous wording he believed was to be used to obtain his background reports. However, according to the lawsuit, the form failed to provide a “clear and conspicuous” standalone disclosure to remind the signee that it was to be used for J&J’s employment purposes, as required by the FCRA.
“Among other things, the disclosure form was deliberately designed by Kelly to extract from Mr. Noye and other applicants their agreement that Kelly could obtain and procure consumer reports on them at any time and for any reason forever in the future regardless of whether the applicant had any ongoing employment relationship with the company,” the complaint said.
Upon having his job offer withdrawn by J&J, Noye requested an explanation as to why he was denied the job, but was allegedly never given a statement of his FCRA rights or a copy of his report.
Noye hopes to use his class allegations against J&J and Kelly Services to bring justice for the “thousands” of job applicants he says were wrongfully denied their rights by these companies under the FCRA. Any individual denied employment due to similar alleged circumstances from J&J or Kelly Services are eligible to join the proposed class and may seek statutory and punitive damages, in addition to attorneys’ fees.