We ran across an interesting case in San Diego this week. Specifically, a background screening company will face trial over claims it produced an inaccurate and outdated report that led to a woman being fired.
In 2014, a woman applied for a job at Alere, a healthcare diagnostics company near San Diego. To complete her hiring process, she was referred to a staffing agency, which in turn asked Kentech Consulting to produce a background check.
Kentech reported in 2009 the woman was convicted of felony grand theft auto and sentenced to three years’ probation. Before the screening, the woman had already started working for the healthcare company. Unfortunately, once her employer saw the report she was fired.
While the woman had indeed been convicted of the felony charge, the conviction had been expunged and the case dismissed.
The woman promptly sued Kentech, Alere and the background check company for violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act and for reporting inaccurate and outdated information. The case worked its way to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, with Alere and the background check company eventually dropped from the lawsuit.
The woman claims Kentech obtained her criminal history info from the background screening company and then attempted verification by going to the San Diego Superior Court’s website to copy the report. She claims they did not examine formal records kept by the court listing appropriate proceedings and case filings.
In its motion for summary judgment, Kentech argued its background report was accurate and it followed reasonable procedures to make sure the information was up to date. Chief U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw disagreed.
He said that while the defendant obtained information from a vendor database, which identified the woman’s conviction, and it “verified the conviction by accessing the San Diego Superior Court’s website,” the defendant had not submitted any evidence that it obtained the information from the court docket in preparing the report.
Sabraw said the questions of whether Kentech’s original report was accurate and whether the company actually had strict procedures to ensure the reports were accurate and up to date, should be presented to a jury. A trial is set for November.
Insuring accuracy is crucial at GroupOne Background Screening, and the outcome of this case will be interesting to follow. We believe it’s important to be aware of the sources of information because there are no shortcuts or cheap alternatives. The most recent and formal sources should always be utilized. To do otherwise could make us potentially liable.