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Hertz Accused Of Using Illegal Applicant Screenings

Jun 9, 2015 / Media Coverage / Law360 — Aebra Coe

The Hertz Corp. was hit Tuesday with a putative class action in California federal court accusing the rental car giant of violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act by allegedly not following proper procedure when screening job applicants using consumer reports.

Plaintiff Peter Lee said he was denied a job at Hertz after the company conducted an illegal background check on him. Hertz “systematically” violates the FCRA by failing to properly warn applicants in writing that it plans to procure a consumer report during the hiring process, by not providing them with a written description of their rights under the act, and failing to get the applicants’ authorization to do the checks, the complaint said.

“In doing so, Hertz fails to strictly comply with federal law governing the procurement and use of consumer reports for employment purposes,” Lee said.

The suit also names the company that does consumer reports for Hertz, Sterling Infosystems Inc.

According to the complaint, Lee was arrested and charged with felony possession of a controlled substance for sale, with a gang enhancement, in 2012.

In May 2014, while the charges were pending, Lee was working for a rival car rental company when he was recruited by Hertz’s Dollar Thrifty branch at the San Francisco Regional Airport to apply for a position as a counter sales associate, the complaint said.

Lee said he was interviewed and offered the job, pending the approval of his application. After being given a start date, Lee resigned from his job at the competing rental company, the complaint said.

While processing his application, Hertz obtained Lee’s consumer report, which revealed the criminal charges against him. He said when he learned he didn’t get the job, he was told it was because of his criminal history.

Lee contends that because he was not properly warned about the report and because of other procedural missteps in conducting the background check, Hertz violated his rights as a consumer.

“Hertz and Sterling have routinely and systematically failed to provide plaintiff and other job applicants with a copy of their consumer reports prior to taking adverse actions against them,” Lee alleged. “Despite defendants’ awareness of their legal obligations, defendants have acted consciously in breaching their known duties and depriving plaintiff and other job applicants of their rights under the FCRA.”

Because the conduct was willful, the defendants should be held liable for actual damages, punitive damages, attorneys’ fees and costs, Lee said.

Representatives of Hertz did not immediately respond to a Tuesday request for comment.

Lee is represented by Jahan C. Sagafi and Katrina L. Eiland of Outten & Golden LLP and Meredith Desautels and Stephanie Funt of Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights for the San Francisco Bay Area.

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The case is Lee v. The Hertz Corporation et al., case number 3:15-cv-02545, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

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