When companies seek out new recruits, they—of course—hope to hire only the most qualified and reputable candidates; and when piecing together the ‘personal puzzle’ of the of the individual under consideration , one of the most frequently used tools to mitigate risk is their criminal history.
However, under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), companies seeking credit and related histories of potential job candidates must tread carefully, and abide by the many rules and restrictions governing the use of personal consumer information. The many rules and regulations have made it possible for some ‘enterprising’ job candidates to litigate their way to financial rewards.
Perhaps one of the best examples of these ‘professional plaintiffs’ is Cory Groshek, who most recently threatened to sue Time-Warner Cable for violations relating to the FCRA. Unless the company was willing to pay him a six-figure settlement, Groshek threatened to sue the cable giant for several million dollars for allegedly not complying with the FCRA; what makes Groshek’s case so interesting is that, according to the Appleton Post-Crescent, over the course of an 18-month period Groshek applied to more than 560 jobs, with the primary intent of ‘catching’ companies in violation of the FCRA.
In response to Time Warner’s motion to dismiss his charge, Groshek openly admitted that he had applied to hundreds of similar job openings, without any intent of working at any position should he be offered one.
But for employers, what may be the most troubling aspect of this effort is the fact that—upon spotting violations of the FCRA–Groshek had threatened to sue on behalf of all recently hired employees. Under the threat of expensive lawsuits, employers settled with Groshek.
According to the Post-Crescent, Groshek has, to date, threatened to sue 46 potential employers that performed a background check on him; worth noting is the fact that almost half of those companies were willing to pay relatively small settlements—running between $5,000-$35,000—in order to simply avoid Groshek’s threatened class action FCRA-related suits.
And should anyone think that Groshek is unique in his pursuit of a career as a ‘professional plaintiff’ specializing in FCRA-related lawsuits, it’s worth noting that according to WebRecon, a company specializing in tracking consumer litigation, nearly 400 FCRA class-action lawsuits were filed in 2015, almost double the number of similar lawsuits filed just one year earlier.
Given how critically important it is for businesses to conduct thorough background checks on potential new hires, Groshek’s story—and a growing number of similar occurrences across the country—dramatically illustrates the benefits of partnering with background screening professionals, such as PeopleFacts. As anyone who has attempted to comply with the complex set of federal (as well as state and local) employment laws and regulations knows all too well, ensuring full compliance with employment (and FCRA) regulations can be a daunting task.
A growing awareness that ‘professional plaintiffs’ such as Groshekare are aggressively working to manipulate regulations to protect consumers such as the FCRA for personal profit illustrates the urgency of achieving full compliance will all existing hiring regulations.
In much the same way that a skilled doctor can help immunize a patient against a looming viral outbreak, so too can proactively partnering with the background screening professionals at PeopleFacts help ‘inoculate’ an organization against the growing number of ‘professional plaintiffs’ such as Groshek, forever in search of non-compliance and a big payday.