For now, applicants still don’t have to show that harm was done following a possible violation of the FCRA. At least this is what the Supreme Court is telling us. Now SCOTUS is agreeing to hear the case of Robbins v Spokeo.
The case began in 2011. Robbins filed a civil suit alleging violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act against Spokeo, an online database. Robbins alleged Spokeo reported incorrect information to potential employers, such as name, age, history, wealth, etc. using the online service.
A California Federal Judge originally dismissed the case in 2011, stating there was not enough proof as to any damage Robbins had suffered, or would possibly suffer in the future.
The dismissal was overturned by the Ninth Circuit in 2014, saying Robbins did not have to show actual harm for willful violations of the FCRA. This caused Spokeo to appeal the decision to the supreme court.
Spokeo requested input from the federal government on the case. The Solicitor General stated, “public dissemination of inaccurate personal information…is a form of ‘concrete harm’ that courts have traditionally acted to redress, whether or not the plaintiff can probe some further consequential injury.”
What Does This Mean to You?
This is a closely followed case and if the Supreme Court affirms the Ninth’s decision, the possibility of a tidal wave of lawsuits is strong. If it is reversed; it will settle the case law immediately and plaintiffs will have to show harm prior to filing.
Employer’s Investigative Services has followed this case closely and will continue to do so. Without taking a stance for either side of this case; it is important that both sides be heard and that the result of the case end in clearly defined rules and guidelines for employers, credit reporting agencies and consumers.
If you have any questions regarding your compliance or what searches best fit your needs, give Employer’s Investigative Services a call at (866) 350-5638.