Employee Who Lost Job Due To False Data In Background Check Is Entitled To Damages
In Miller v. Johnson & Johnson, a Florida case, Miller successfully brought a claim under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) against his prospective employer. The Fair Credit Reporting Act is intended to provide prospective employees protection from false information found in their criminal background reports. The Court determined that Miller was entitled to damages because Johnson & Johnson denied him a job opportunity without first giving him the opportunity to dispute the data found in his background report.
Miller had successfully interviewed with Johnson & Johnson (“J&J) and received an offer of employment contingent on completion of a successful background check. J&J enlisted Yale Associates (“Yale”) to complete the background check. Yale completed the background check and reported to J&J that Miller had criminal activity. Upon receipt of this background check, containing inaccurate criminal activity, and conversation with Miller, the court found that J&J had revoked Miller’s offer of employment. Miller contacted J&J who told him to contact Yale. Miller Contacted Yale but prior to a revised copy being sent to J&J, the position Miller sought had already been filled.
Under the FCRA, the person whose background is being checked must be provided a copy of the report and summary of rights prior to any adverse action being taken. Here Miller was subject to adverse action prior to the report being mailed to him as upon J&J’s knowledge of his criminal activity J&J revoked his offer. The court found that he had proved Johnson & Johnson liable. Since the position was already filled once Miller’s information was corrected the court found that he was entitled to a trial to dispute the actual damages he incurred. J&J’s violation of the FCRA caused Miller to lose a base salary of $105,000 per year plus bonuses and benefits.
Miller’s case demonstrates that prospective employees whose job offers are revoked based on false information in their criminal background report are able to seek damages.