On May 12, 2016, a District Court judge in Minnesota dismissed the FCRA lawsuit Thomas J. Just v. Target Corporation. In the case, filed in November of 2015, the plaintiff alleged that Target willfully violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act by including extraneous information on the background check disclosure form. Specifically, Just pointed to three components of the disclosure document that he claimed constitute extraneous information, including the statement “Please Note: You are NOT creating a contract of employment with our Company by signing this form. If hired, both you and our Company have the right to end your employment at anytime for any reason.”
Target argued that none of the information that the plaintiff deemed extraneous constituted a release of liability for either the company or their background screening agency and that it was simply “part and parcel of providing a full disclosure and securing a meaningful authorization.” Because the plaintiff claimed no actual damages in the suit, the case hinged on the allegation of willful violation. In reviewing the statutory language of the FCRA, the judge found that there was “insufficient guidance” about the standalone requirement and determined that Target’s interpretation was not unreasonable and, therefore,not willful.
While this outcome represents a rare victory for employers in FCRA cases related to the content of disclosure forms, employers should continue to exercise restraint in adding more information to the disclosure. A concise message regarding the intent to procure a background check is still the best practice.
For more information on staying compliant under the FCRA click HERE.