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Companies strive to hire honest employees with strong credentials. In an effort to make informed decisions, employers conduct background checks prior to hiring an employee. These background checks might examine a prospective employee’s employment history, driving record, criminal records, and credit report.
Various laws have been enacted to ensure that the employee is protected throughout this process. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which protects a job applicant’s information found in a credit report and ensures that the information is accurate. The extent to which an employer can legally analyze a job applicant’s criminal history varies on a state-by-state basis. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars employers from using job-screening standards that have a disparate racial impact.
Despite these legal safeguards, job applicants are often treated unfairly during the employment hiring phase. Take, for instance, Green Mountain Coffee Co., who allegedly rejected job applicants after examining unauthorized consumer reports (per FCRA guidelines), which they obtained from a consumer-reporting agency. The Judge agreed to dismiss the suit after the parties resolved the dispute in an undisclosed nature. Another example is Dominoes, who also allegedly violated the FCRA by running employee background reports without proper authorization and by not sharing the reports with applicants and employees before terminating employees or denying job applicants of employment. The case is currently in litigation. LexisNexis agreed to settle their dispute for more than $1.3 million. The company was accused of failing to notify timely thousands of individuals about negative background reports because of a computer glitch. In light of these cases, it is fair to anticipate similar suits being filed in the near future.
When companies violate laws or make errors in the background check process, perfectly eligible candidates are denied jobs. Common mistakes include multiple reports of a single offense, the inclusion of convictions and arrests that were legally expunged, and even the inclusion of another person’s criminal offenses. Job applicants can contest any mistake made by employers, but what happens when employers don’t even share the information (like the alleged behavior of Dominoes)? Worse, even if a prospective applicant contests the mistake, the appeal process usually takes about thirty days. The position is often filled by the time the appeal process ends, and the candidate is left without a job even if the appeal succeeds.
As stories of companies acting negligently during employment background checks continue to brew, new legislation will continue to pass limiting the employer’s access to job applicants’ personal information. In May 2012, Vermont became the 8th state to restrict the use of credit reports for employment purposes claiming that the results of a credit report have “no correlation to job performance” and do not provide “meaningful insight into a candidate’s character, responsibility, or prospective job performance.” Vermont joined California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Oregon and Washington to enact such a law. At the federal level, the EEOC is currently investigating the use of credit reports for employment purposes, but has yet to rule on the issue.
Employee Rights When Applying for a Job
It’s become clear that legislative bodies are recognizing the risk of error associated with companies conducting employment background checks. Therefore, it is important that you know your rights when applying for a job.
First, the Fair Credit Reporting Act enables you to get a free copy of your credit report through each of three national credit reporting companies: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. Each company must provide one free copy of your credit report every twelve months. It might be a good idea to have a current copy of your credit report for your reference before applying for a job.
Second, an employer must get your authorize before obtaining any credit information from third parties. You should probably get this authorization in writing.
Finally, if you have unfortunately been denied employment or had your employment terminated because of a failed background check, an employer must provide you with a written report of the information used to make their decision and a document called “A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.” You should carefully analyze the information used in their decision, and you have the right to contest any information you believe to be erroneous.
Background Check Lawsuits
Unfortunately, not all employers will follow the law when conducting employment background checks, and Green Mountain and Dominoes are only a sample of how companies might be acting negligently when making employment decisions. Sometimes it takes a legal proceeding to hold large companies accountable and provide employees with a voice to speak out against the wrongdoings associated with background check errors. As such, we are sure to see class action lawsuits develop against more companies
Stryker Manufacturing Practices Questioned
Concerns about Stryker Orthopaedics hip replacement products began in 2005, two years after the Trident Acetabular Cup System, a hip implant system, was approved and released to the market. Patients started complaining about the squeaking noises of their Stryker hip replacements and the improper seating of their hip replacements causing bone fractures, so the FDA took action. After inspecting the Stryker Ireland manufacturing plant and finding a lack of conformity with Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP), the FDA issued a warning letter to the company on March 15, 2007. The warning said the facility was failing to establish and maintain adequate procedures for fixing products and analyzing risks.
A second warning was issued by the FDA on November 28, 2007, following another inspection—this time of the company’s New Jersey plant. Once more, the FDA brought attention to the fact that the company had failed to establish procedures for identifying and correcting nonconforming products and addressing other quality problems.
For more information about the Stryker hip implant recall and your legal options, visit www.seegerweiss.com/stryker-hip-recall.
AboveTheLaw.com, a leading legal blog that provides original commentary on developments within the industry, published a profile on Seeger Weiss LLP today. David Lat, the managing editor of the website, interviewed founding partner Stephen A. Weiss and new partner Eric H. Jaso on their perspectives on the differences between a boutique plaintiffs’ firm like Seeger Weiss and a large Biglaw firm. On the practice areas of firms like Seeger Weiss, Lat writes, “I’ve always wondered why more law school graduates don’t go into plaintiffs’ work and why we don’t hear about this side of practice as much. It can represent a chance to do well while also doing good, by vindicating victims’ rights or blowing the whistle on misconduct — especially in the qui tam practice area, a focus of Seeger Weiss.”
Following founding partner Christopher A. Seeger’s appointment to the position of Plaintiffs’ Co-Lead Counsel in the NFL Concussion Multidistrict Litigation, Seeger Weiss has set up a special investigation page to keep those following the lawsuit up to date on the latest information. At our NFL Football Concussions Page, the Seeger Weiss personal injury attorneys working on the NFL concussion investigation will post the latest interviews, news items and medical research surrounding the case.
Visit http://www.seegerweiss.com/football-concussions/ for more information.
The lawyers of the drug injury practice of Seeger Weiss LLP announced a new investigation this week into a potential lawsuit against the manufacturers of several different sleeping pills. Dozens of recent studies of sleeping pills have indicated that popular sleeping pills like Ambien, Benadryl and Barbiturates carry high mortality risks that put the patients who use them to get to sleep in danger of never waking up. Among other disturbing figures, these sleep studies have uncovered the fact that patients who take sleeping pills die 4.6 times as often within 2.5 years as those who don’t. Additional data has demonstrated that sleeping pills are associated with several types of cancer. In fact, people who take over 132 sleeping pills per year have a 35% increased risk of developing cancer within the next 2.5 years.
Examples of Commonly Prescribed Sleeping Pills with Risks of Cancer and Death:
- Zolpidem (Ambien, Stilnox)
- Temazepam (Restoril)
- Eszopiclone (Lunesta)
- Zaleplon (Sonata)
- Triazolam (Halcion)
- Flurazepam (Dalmane, Dalmadorm)
- Estazolam (ProSom)
- Quazepam (Doral)
- Barbiturates (especially Luminal)
- Antihistamines, mainly diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
Seeger Weiss LLP, an award-winning, national plantiffs’ firm, is offering to review the case of anyone who has been harmed by a prescription sleeping pill. Visit their investigation page for more information.
Last week, the Washington Post reported the story of a Washington state couple suing Tylenol manufacturers, Johnson & Johnson. According to the Post, Daniel and Katy Moore claim that their 2-year-old son River Moore died as a result of consuming a Children’s Tylenol product. The specific package in question had been recalled due to high levels of the active ingredient acetaminophen. Shortly after taking the over-the-counter medication for a slight fever, the young boy died of liver failure, a known effect of an acetaminophen overdose. “The lawsuit, filed…in Philadelphia’s Court of Common Pleas, accuses Johnson & Johnson of recklessness, negligence, breach of warranty, infliction of emotional distress, conspiracy and other offenses,” the story explains.
The article also notes that Johnson & Johnson’s 2009 recall of the product at the center of this lawsuit is “part of the company’s continuing string of recalls of drugs and medical devices.” In fact, the drug injury practice of Seeger Weiss LLP is currently investigating complaints of liver damage at the hands of Tylenol. If you or someone you know has suffered liver damage as a result of taking Tylenol, let Seeger Weiss help you seek justice. Our experienced drug injury attorneys have won billions of dollars for our clients and will review your Tylenol liver damage case for free.
It happens like this: you own a non-smartphone from Verizon. It can access the mobile web, but you decide you’re not going to buy a data plan because you don’t want to browse the web on your tiny mobile screen. You go about using your phone, but it has a big huge button that launches the mobile browser. When you click that button, it automatically starts loading some kind of “home” screen, using whole kilobytes worth of data in the process. Then you get charged a minimum usage fee for those kilobytes. This shows up on your statement, and you pay it probably without realizing it.
You can’t avoid pressing that web browser button on your non-smartphone because it’s in the same spot as another button that appears on a different screen, and we’re creatures of habit so of course we’re going to press it, or it’s too close to another button, or the buttons are too flat, or the icon looks like something else you did want to click. Oh, and you also can’t reassign the button to mean something else, or disable the web browser entirely.
In my mind, and I think probably everyone else’s as well, Verizon did this to customers on purpose. Through intentionally bad, broken design, they managed to charge their customers an extra $90 million dollars. Only when they were investigated by the FCC did they “discover” the “error” and vow to fix it, explaining that, “Verizon Wireless values our customer relationships and we always want to do the right thing for our customers,” (Mary Coyne, deputy general counsel for Verizon Wireless).
Verizon recently agreed to pay out the $90 million sum in refunds after being investigated by the FCC. You can read more about the story at the Huffington Post.
Stephen Weiss thought it would be easy. His wife, Debra, was bogged down with running holiday errands in New York and needed him to pick up sufganiyot for the first night of Hanukkah. The jelly donuts are a holiday mainstay for the Weisses and their children, Alex, 17; Samara, 14; and Jason, 7. “It was the one thing she wanted me to do,” he said.
Little did he know how rare the sweets become on the Upper East Side of Manhattan as the Jewish holiday approaches. “I stopped at a dozen and a half places, including Dunkin’ Donuts,” he said. Out of options, he trudged homeward with trepidation to confess to his wife that he wasn’t able to do the one task she had asked of him.
Half a block from their apartment, however, he spotted a fellow delivering boxes of something into a bagel shop. “What are those?” he asked the man. “Jelly donuts!” came the reply. Disaster averted.
Representing Justice [is] an academic treatise on threats to the modern judiciary that doubles as an obsessive’s tour of Western art through the lens of the law.
The book charts how the iconography of justice has both reflected and influenced the development of courts and national governments and how that imagery is now often no longer able to carry the weight of the legal demands of the modern world.
A jury in Atlantic County, N.J. eventually returned verdicts, awarding $20 million in compensatory damages and $27.5 million in punitive damages to plaintiff Frederick ‘Mike’ Humeston and his wife Mary against defendant Merck & Co. (NYSE: MRK) in the Vioxx-related personal injury trial entitled, Humeston v. Merck. The Humeston family was represented by Seeger Weiss LLP. The jury’s verdicts represent a total damages award against Merck of $47.5 million.