A federal judge in the Northern District of California certified a class of job applicants in a lawsuit claiming a background check firm violated the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act.  The Court certified the class over the arguments of the defendant that the members of the putative class lacked Article III standing under the standard established in Robins v. Spokeo, Inc. 

In the case, the plaintiff alleged that he lost his job as a security guard in 2013 after his background check report listed “prior convictions as well as three charges that did not result in criminal convictions and were older than seven years.”

In the decision certifying the class, the court wrote that the alleged harm suffered by the plaintiff, Regmon L. Hawkins, “sufficiently establishes the concreteness requirement” needed to ground Article III standing.  In reaching that decision, the court stated:

The harm alleged here sufficiently establishes the concreteness requirement.  Here, Congress decided to restrict access to information regarding arrests older than seven years, which bestowed a degree of privacy on that information.  Despite those restrictions, S2Verify published plaintiff’s stale arrests.  S2Verify thereby sent restricted information about plaintiff into the world and as such caused injury to plaintiff’s privacy interest.  Plaintiff’s alleged injury is concrete; therefore, plaintiff has established standing. …  Moreover, the violation is not merely procedural.  Rather, S2Verify disclosed records of arrest that Congress has protected from disclosure, thereby intruding upon plaintiff’s privacy interest.

Troutman Sanders has extensive experience in litigating FCRA class actions, including challenges to a plaintiff’s Article III standing.  We will continue to monitor this and like developments as courts continue to grapple with the contours of the Supreme Court’s Spokeo decision.