U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina approved a settlement worth nearly $3 million for litigants in a class action suit against Delhaize America LLC. The parent company of Food Lion, LLC was found guilty of violating disclosure requirements under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which states applicants must be given written notice of potential negative impacts that could result from employment background checks.
Because of the nature of the violation, Delhaize America LLC was forced to agree to compensate every eligible applicant who submitted to an employment check at any of its subsidiary companies. Which means 59,000 individuals are eligible to receive restitution as a result of this ruling.
While Delhaize was technically found guilty for a procedural error in its hiring process, the suit was triggered due to a mistake on a background check produced by a customer reporting agency. Food Lion, LLC fired an employee because the report wrongly accused her of being a convicted felon. The ex-employee called a lawyer. The lawyer filed a class-action lawsuit against Food Lion, LLC’s parent company. That class-action lawsuit eventually grew to include every applicant during the affected time period who applied to a Delhaize store and had undergone a background check.
The take away from this event is huge for employers.
First, it is critical to have a consistent, legally defensible practice in place before ordering background checks. Delhaize is not the only company to be cited for failing to properly inform applicants. Amazon, Aerotek, and Publix have also been hit with lawsuits for this issue.
Second, it is absolutely vital that you can trust the information reported in background check results. Background checks are run to protect your company from liability. Receiving false information is as bad as – or in some cases worse – than receiving no information at all.
In Food Lion’s case, the employee disputed the false report because it wrongly accused her of a crime she didn’t commit. But what are the chances that somebody would alert you when the mistake goes the other way? Not too many applicants in need of a job are going to raise their hand to let you know your background check missed something that might damage their chances to finally slip in the door marked Employees Only.
There is no consolidated, national database on US citizens! The best these online background services can do is rely on search engines that quickly comb through multiple regional databases in a specified area.
Fingerprints are the gold standard for establishing a person’s identity!
- Searches based on false or incomplete information can lead searches in the wrong direction. Which can easily result in incomplete and false reports.
- People can change their name, obscure their background, even purchase fake identification. Which is a particular problem when relying on so-called nation-wide instant background databases
- But applicants cannot fake their fingerprints. Even better, fingerprints taken with Livescan technology can be forwarded directly to the FBI for processing.
There IS a consolidated database of fingerprints taken in the US. This FBI-administered database has collected reports from all 50 states since the 1960s
Unlike those third-party online background check services, the FBI has access to the Automated Fingerprint Identification Systems (AFIS). The same system police across the country consult during criminal investigations.
Which means fingerprint-based background checks processed by the FBI aren’t subject to the many opportunities for errors or omissions common when multiple people have to input data into numerous databases all over America.
Need employee background checks in the South East? We can bring reliable and accurate Livescan technology to you!