NORTH CAROLINA (03/02/15) – As reported by Law 360, a class action lawsuit settlement regarding illegal procedures used to background check job applicants was set before U.S. District Judge Thomas D. Schroeder for preliminary approval in the amount of $2.9M to be paid by Delhaize America, the Belgium based parent company of Food Lion, in regards to a lawsuit filed by Jeneen Brown.

The lawsuit settlement is applicable to approximately 60,000 job applicants, including applicants to other retail chains owned by Delhaize America, such as Hannaford Brothers and Bottom Dollar, because the illegal procedures were company policy for all the subsidiaries of Delhaize.

The lawsuit was initiated by Jeneen Brown, who was briefly employed at Food Lion in 2013 after she

completed an online application for a cashier position. Food Lion hired her and promoted her to a manager in customer service. After she had been working for Food Lion for only two weeks, she was informed that they were terminating her employment. The decision was made based on a botched background investigation by Single Source Services Corp., a minor consumer reporting agency. The agency stated that, as per their background check, Ms. Brown did “not meet company standards.” Ms. Brown found out later that this cryptic statement and her subsequent firing came about because Single Services falsely labeled her as a convicted felon.

After some investigation, Ms. Brown found out Food Lion violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) in the following ways:

Applicants to Food Lion were not given a separate disclosure notice stating that background checks would be run.

Food Lion failed to obtain written permission from the subjects for background checks before having consumer reports run.

Before Food Lion took adverse action against an applicant or employee, such as refusal to hire or a decision to terminate employment, Food Lion did not provide a “pre-adverse action notice.”

This notice should include a summary of rights under FCRA and a copy of the actual report used to make the decision, so that if false statements in the report is causing the employer to consider taking adverse employment action, the applicant or employee has a chance to challenge and correct it.

If you think a company failed to hire you or fired you based on illegal background check procedures, you owe it to yourself to meet with an attorney familiar with employment law and consumer protection law to find out your rights in the situation. Too many employers play fast and loose with many of their personnel-related policies because they are counting on the fact that many people don’t know their rights. Background checks are just the tip of the iceberg! The list goes on and on: sexual harassment, age discrimination, disability discrimination, race and color discrimination … and many more!

If you are refused a job or fired and you feel something is not quite right about it, seek out an attorney who will help you to confirm or deny your suspicions, and, if warranted, represent you to correct the situation.