Legislative Alert: Spokeo Returns, Decision Not So Business-Friendly

About 3 min

Legislative Alert: Spokeo Returns, Decision Not So Business-Friendly

Screening News

  • Ninth Circuit Upholds Original Spokeo Decision
  • Walmart Faces FCRA Challenge
  • NFL Studying Marijuana


Ninth Circuit Upholds Original Spokeo Decision

The legal machinations over the case of Robins v. Spokeo continue, and the decisions seem to have come full circle.

In the original complaint, named plaintiff Thomas Robins sued a company that aggregates information about people and makes it available through a search engine on the internet. Robins claimed the information posted about him by Spokeo was inaccurate, even though the incorrect information did not cause any discernable harm like a lost job opportunity or being turned down for credit.

The California District Court that first heard the case dismissed it, holding that Robins lacked standing to bring the lawsuit.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision, saying that the violation of statutory rights was enough to satisfy the requirements to establish standing.

In May of 2016 the Supreme Court vacated the Ninth Circuit’s decision, saying that the Ninth Circuit was incomplete when conducting their analysis. They held that the Ninth Circuit focused on the requirement of particularity but didn’t assess concreteness, and that both elements of injury must be addressed.

SCOTUS sent the case back to the Ninth Circuit for another look, and on August 15th the appeals court yet again decided that the plaintiff does have standing to pursue the claim. They held that the injury was both concrete and particularized, noting that the FCRA’s intention is to protect consumers from having incorrect information spread about them.

For now, we don’t know whether this is the end of the road or if Spokeo will make its way back up to the Supreme Court. What we do know is that this has been an interesting journey that may still have a few final twists and turns.


Walmart Faces FCRA Challenge

One of the nation’s biggest retailers is facing a class action lawsuit like many we have seen before. Plaintiff Randy Pitre is claiming Walmart did not provide the required “clear and conspicuous” disclosure that they planned to conduct a background check during the hiring process. Pitre claims the disclosures were embedded in extraneous information required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The suit also alleges that the retailer did not get the proper authorization to run the background check and also failed to tell give applicants the required Summary of their Rights that is mandatory under the FCRA. If a class is certified it would include current, former, and prospective employees who were subject to a background check during the last 5 years. In addition to the FCRA, the suit alleges several California laws were violated as well.

[Related] FCRA Compliance: What You Need to Know


NFL Studying Marijuana

The NFL has always held a hard line when it came to players using marijuana. But now, team owners have agreed to sit down with the NFL Players Association to look into the value of using the drug to treat pain. While the research is being conducted, the players union is reportedly trying to get punishments reduced in light of the fact that 29 states now have some form of legalized marijuana. Twenty of the league’s 32 teams play in states where medical marijuana is legal, but player can still be punished if they test positive.

[Related Webinar] 30 Minute Marijuana Update


How to Write a Background Check Policy

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