Back to Blog

Background Check Disclosure Lawsuit – Did Employer Violate the FCRA?

Given advances in technology, it is become common place for many consent forms and disclosures to be provided and signed electronically.  However, many times, businesses fail to conform technology to the law. For instance, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires employers to provide a background check disclosure and consent form together on a single document.  At first blush, this requirement seems straightforward; however when a physical document becomes a web page that outlines a disclosure and consent form to be electronically signed or checked, application of the law becomes more involved.

Is a Web Page a Single Document?

In Martinez v. Sephora USA, Inc., the Honorable Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of the Northern District of California was confronted with this exact issue: what a single “document” is in the context of an online background check system.  In Martinez, the plaintiff alleged that a web page is a single document – and because of that fact – Sephora’s inclusion of a “certification and release” on the same web page as the background check disclosure violated the FCRA’s “single document” or “solely of the disclosure” requirement. 

However, Sephora argued in its motion for judgment on the pleadings that the “solely of the disclosure” requirement under the FCRA was not violated because the term “solely” is “more flexible than at first it may appear.”  In other words, Sephora argued that the plain meaning of “solely” in the FCRA does not mean what it appears to mean, and other items may be included in the same web page, even if the web page is considered a single document.  The argument of Sephora makes little sense given the plain meaning of the word solely, as well as the certain purpose behind that provision of the FCRA, which is, to ensure that the “disclosure” is obvious and visible so that consumers would immediately know the sensitive information that Sephora would be gaining access to from plaintiff.

The Court ultimately denied Sephora’s motion by determining, among other things, that the question of whether a web page equals a single document under the FCRA to be unclear because a lack of authority cited by either party on the issue.  The Court did determine, however, that if a web page is considered a single document, then Sephora did violate the FCRA by also including a “certification and release” on the same page as the disclosure.

Contact a Consumer Protection Attorney Today

If you did not provide consent for a prospective employer to run a background check, or if you simply have questions about the process, you should consider speaking with a Consumer Protection and FCRA Attorney.  Please contact The Kim Law Firm, LLC today by calling 855-996-6342 to schedule a no-cost consultation to speak with one of our attorneys.