Sunday, March 15, 2015 - tive methods during the hiring process. Similar lawsuits have been filed against a number of large american companies, including CVS, Disney, Domino‘s Pizza and K-Mart.
The original suit against Whole Foods came on February 7, 2014 and claimed that the nationwide grocer also obtained background checks and other information about applicants before receiving any consent in addition to employing a flawed authorization process within the applications. There are a number of other smaller complaints included in the lawsuits having to do with the wording within the application as well. Plaintiffs claim that acknowledgments does not constitute an employment contract, wording that waives an applicant‘s ability to obtain a receipt of their own public records and other issues within the application are not in accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
The lawsuits constitute a class that ranges from February 2009 to the present and is seeking damages between $100 and $1,000 per case. The current class size stands at over 78,000 claimants. In addition to the penalties, the lawsuit seeks to create wording within the applications that clearly states the request for authorization in a way that stands out from the rest of the application.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act is a 1970 that was instituted to protect the personal information of job applicants as they were seeking employment. Much of its original drafting was connected to the new practice at the time of credit reporting companies providing private data and consumer reports to banks and credit card companies.
Whole Foods filed to dismiss the lawsuits in February, claiming that the plaintiffs did not incur any damages from the application forms and that their employment qualifications were not affected by the wording used by the company. Whole Foods also claimed that the plaintiff‘s case requires the court to "disregard reality" in arguing that the authorization form was not isolated to a degree that the consent given was not covered under the relevant laws.
However because this is a privacy violation, such damages and results are not imperative to pursuing a lawsuit under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The forms requesting background and consumer checks also has to not only be stand alone, but contain no other agreements as to focus the applicants attention on the action of consent.
Settlements against companies that are being sued under the same laws are beginning to pop up around the country. Dollar General settled for $4 million with plaintiffs in October, and the grocer Publix did the same for a total of $6.8 million. Both settlements were the result of lawsuits claiming violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The argument to certify the lawsuits against Whole Foods is currently pending before the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation.