Earlier this month, plaintiff Gregory Williams filed a class action lawsuit against Amazon, Inc. and a third-party recruitment company, Staff Management Solutions (SMX), alleging they violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) of 1970. The lawsuit, filed in Washington state federal court, alleges Amazon failed to disclose the information in Williams’ background check that was used in the company’s decision to deny him employment.
Williams applied for a job at one of Amazon’s distribution centers back tin November 2013. The job consisted of finding and moving product to prepare it for shipping. Like many companies, Amazon conducts regular employment background checks on its job applicants to determine whether they are fit for the job. According to the lawsuit, Williams signed a form that provided SMX – the staffing company working in conjunction with Amazon – to obtain a consumer report for employment reasons. There was an annotation in the form that said if any information was found in the report that could affect Amazon’s decision to hire Williams, he would provided with a copy of this information.
Williams was later interviewed for the job on November 30, 2013, with the recruiter offering him the position shortly after. On December 2, 2013, he was asked to conduct a second follow-up interview, at which point Williams was told that he would start working just several days later on December 5. During this time, however, SMX conducted a employment background check using the services of Sterling – a separate consumer reporting agency.
On December 3 – just one day after his second interview – Amazon discovered that Williams had two criminal convictions, one of which was a misdemeanor and the second being a felony count of cocaine possession. This prompted Williams to be “disqualified” from employment, says the lawsuit. Shortly after this discovery, Amazon told Williams that they could not hire him because of the felony found on his record.
Williams contacted SMX, telling the screening company that he had not received a copy of the report, and that the information contained within was incorrect because he had never been charged with a felony to his knowledge. The lawsuit alleges that SMX failed to provide Williams with a copy of the report used in Amazon’s hiring decision, nor did it provide Williams with a statement of his FCRA rights.
“Defendants typically do not provide job applicants with a copy of their consumer reports or a statement of their FCRA rights before they take adverse action against them based on the information in such reports, despite being required to do so by section 1681b(b)(3)(A) of the FCRA,” the lawsuit said.
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