Avis No Advance Notice of Adverse Action on Employment FCRA Class Action

When she was offered a job in California with Avis, plaintiff Denise Watkins was ready to accept. All she had to do was pass a background check, the complaint for this class action says, and she’d already discussed the only negative in her history—misdemeanor—with Avis. According to the complaint, Watkins told her landlord she was moving, gave her current employer notice, and made three trips to Los Angeles to prepare. Then, Avis withdrew its offer, because, the complaint says, the report they had received contained a criminal history. In fact, it wasn’t her history—but by the time she saw the error, it was too late.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) contains provisions for the procurement and use of background reports. First, companies who want to obtain a background report for a prospective employee must provide a document that “consist[s] solely of the disclosure” that the company wants to do this, and they must obtain written authorization from the subject.

According to the complaint, the disclosure document Watkins was given was cluttered with other items, and she never provided written authorization.

Second, the FCRA requires that, before taking adverse action based in whole or in part on a report, the company must provide the subject with a copy of the report and a summary of her rights under the FCRA. This gives subjects time to discuss negative information with prospective employers or point out errors like the ones Watkins’ report contained.

The complaint alleges that Avis has a system with Sterling, the credit reporting company it uses, that goes something like this: The subject completes an online application which is sent automatically to Sterling; Sterling compiles the report and scores it as “adverse” or “compliant” or the like, using Avis’s hiring criteria; Sterling posts the results for Avis to view; and Avis reviews the report and confirms the score.

Afterwards, Sterling mailed to Watkins a letter that was purportedly from Avis with a copy of the report which the complaint alleges was a “pre-adverse action notice” intended as an attempt to comply with the law. Several days later, Sterling sent her a final letter on behalf of Avis withdrawing the job offer, although the complaint claims that case law has established that subjects should have a reasonable period to review the report, typically five business days. The complaint charges that not only did Sterling’s “pre-adverse action notice” letter not provide enough time to Watkins; it was sent only after Sterling had made an adverse determination and Avis had parroted it back to Sterling.

Where did the criminal history in Watkins’ report come from? It belonged to her twin brother, whose name is not Denise but Dennis, and who has the same birth date as she does.

The complaint claims that Avis and Sterling have violated the FCRA, Avis for not following the rules for users, and Sterling for providing erroneous information. 

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Employment

Most Recent Case Event

Avis No Advance Notice of Adverse Action on Employment FCRA Complaint

September 20, 2017

When she was offered a job in California with Avis, plaintiff Denise Watkins was ready to accept. Then, Avis withdrew its offer, because, the complaint says, the background report they had received from Sterling contained a criminal history. In fact, it wasn’t her history—but by the time she saw the error, it was too late. The complaint says that the companies violated the FCRA, Sterling in providing erroneous information on the report, and Avis because it did not follow the rules for users of credit reports, most notably in not giving her a chance to challenge the false information before they withdrew their job offer. 

avis_fcra_complaint.pdf

Case Event History

Avis No Advance Notice of Adverse Action on Employment FCRA Complaint

September 20, 2017

When she was offered a job in California with Avis, plaintiff Denise Watkins was ready to accept. Then, Avis withdrew its offer, because, the complaint says, the background report they had received from Sterling contained a criminal history. In fact, it wasn’t her history—but by the time she saw the error, it was too late. The complaint says that the companies violated the FCRA, Sterling in providing erroneous information on the report, and Avis because it did not follow the rules for users of credit reports, most notably in not giving her a chance to challenge the false information before they withdrew their job offer. 

avis_fcra_complaint.pdf
Tags: Erroneous Information on Report, FCRA, Failure to provide proper notice and/or obtain proper authorization, Failure to provide subject with a copy of report, Failure to provide subject with summary of rights under FCRA