Press Release

Wrong Information Winds Up on Background Check, Costing Client His Job

CSS Files Suit in Federal Court

Today, CSS Staff Attorney Emily Hoffman and General Counsel Judith Whiting, along with co-counsel John Beranbaum of the law firm Beranbaum Menken LLP, filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against defendants Direct Screening and Safety Facility Services (SFS).

The complaint charges Defendant Direct Screening, a background check company, with multiple violations of the federal and New York Fair Credit Reporting Acts (FCRA’s), laws meant to make sure that background check companies respect individuals’ privacy rights. Direct Screening produced a background check on CSS’s client that contained inaccurate information about his conviction history, attributing several felony convictions to him that belonged to a different individual. These serious errors led to the client’s termination by his employer, SFS.

The complaint charges Defendant SFS with violations of the federal and New York FCRA’s, as well as the New York State and City Human Rights Laws. SFS’s violations of the FCRA’s included failing to provide CSS’s client with an opportunity to dispute Direct Screening’s inaccurate background check before terminating him from his job supervising maintenance workers, as well as failing to provide him with information about how to dispute the background check after his termination. SFS’s violations of the New York State and City Human Rights Laws include failing to perform a legally mandated analysis of the convictions that appeared on his background check before terminating him. SFS also violated the Fair Chance Act, a section of the New York City Human Rights Law that requires companies to provide applicants and employees with a written copy of the aforementioned analysis, and to hold the position in question open for three business days in order to give the applicant or employee an opportunity to explain why they should not be denied or terminated from employment on the basis of their conviction histories. CSS played a major role in the passage of the Fair Chance Act in 2015.

This case builds on the CSS Legal Department and Next Door Project’s daily work helping clients understand their conviction histories and advocating for them when their rights are violated by employers and background check companies. It also spotlights the sorts of discrimination and privacy violations that New Yorkers with conviction histories must face day in and day out.

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