Starbucks Faces Class Action Lawsuit for Alleged FCRA Violations during Applicant Background

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Starbucks have allegedly violated requirements under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) for not giving job applicants the opportunity to correct inaccurate details on their background check reports.

In the latest class action to hit the international coffee giant, job applicant Kevin Wills of Georgia USA, claims that Starbucks terminated his employment during the probationary period, after an incorrect spelling of his name led to criminal offences being wrongly added to his background report. The report included instances of domestic violence, reported in a different state and under the name Willis rather than Wills, which were mistakenly blamed to Kevin Wills. This led to his being denied employment with Starbucks.

The FCRA legislation came into force in the US in 1970 and promotes accuracy, fairness and privacy in information used by consumer reporting agencies. Credit reporting agencies in the UK are regulated by both the Consumer Credit Act 1974 and the Data Protection Act 1998. UK data laws protect applicants in a similar way to the FCRA, and companies must ensure that they comply with the regulations while vetting potential candidates.

FCRA requirements state that employees must be provided with a written copy of their background report and be notified of their rights under FCRA before any adverse action is taken. This allows the consumer time to dispute incorrect or inaccurate information, and discuss the contents of the report with potential employers.

The written report and rights must be provided at least 5 working days before adverse action is taken, something that Starbucks did not do according to Wills.

Accurate background checks are critical during the employment process, to ensure that all candidates have a fair and equal opportunity to employment, and that the right candidate is found for the position.

Mistakes can be costly, and this latest Starbucks case proves that not only should background checks be accurate, they should be completed in a timely and transparent manner and conform to legislation.