Starbucks Corp. has been sued in a proposed class action in the Northern District of Georgia for alleged violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act with its employment application process.  Plaintiff Kevin Wills claims Starbucks rejected job applicants based on consumer reports without first providing a copy of the reports to the applicants and notifying applicants of their rights as required by the FCRA.

According to the complaint, in September 2015, Wills was offered a position at a Starbucks in Buford, Georgia.  The offer was contingent upon the approval of a criminal background check.  Allegedly, the store’s manager rescinded the offer after reviewing a consumer report provided by a consumer reporting agency that indicated a man with a similar name, Kevin W. Willis from Minnesota, had been convicted twice of domestic violence.

In the complaint, Wills claims that he “never used the name Kevin Willis and does not spell his name like Kevin Willis, nor has he ever resided in Minnesota.”  Wills alleges that “[t]he information was erroneously mixed into his information” by the company Starbucks uses to procure its background reports.

Although Wills eventually received a copy of the consumer report that included the name mix-up, the report did not come until after the offer had already been rescinded.  According to Wills, he received the report too late in violation of the FCRA.  Under the FCRA, companies are required to provide applicants with a copy of their consumer report and a written summary of rights under the FCRA before the company can take any adverse action based in whole or in part on the consumer report.

Wills’ suit seeks to certify a nationwide class of individuals who had an adverse action taken against them by Starbucks since September 20, 2015, based on a consumer report that Starbucks did not provide with a written description of FCRA rights at least five business days before taking the adverse action.

The suit seeks statutory damages between $100 and $1,000 per violation, per class member, plus punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, and costs.

Troutman Sanders is an industry leader in FCRA compliance and litigation, and we will continue to monitor litigation developments in this case.