Legislative Alert: TransUnion Confuses Innocent People with Terrorists, Slapped with Enormous Fine

4 min

Legislative Alert: TransUnion Confuses Innocent People with Terrorists, Slapped with Enormous Fine

Screening News

  • Record-breaking Award in an FCRA Case
  • Penn State Still Struggling to Screen Staff
  • Banning the Box on College Applications
  • New California Law Now in Effect

Record-breaking Award in an FCRA Case

TransUnion, the enormous credit reporting agency, has just been hit with a record-breaking judgement of $60 million in statutory and punitive damages for violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). In Ramirez v. TransUnion LLC, plaintiffs claimed the agency confused them with terrorists, narcotics traffickers, and money launderers listed in the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) database. It turns out the people actually on the OFAC list all had similar names or characteristics as the plaintiffs. In addition to the incorrect records, the plaintiffs alleged TransUnion did not give them the chance to review and dispute the OFAC information, which is required by law. A jury found that the credit reporting agency failed to follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy, failed to clearly disclose the consumer reports upon request, and failed to provide plaintiffs with a Summary of their Rights Under the FCRA.  The jury awarded each of the 8,185 class members $984.22 in statutory damages and $6,343.08 in punitive.

Penn State Still Struggling to Screen Staff

In the five years since the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal, Penn State has worked hard to create policies to keep predators out of their programs – especially those that involve children. The state also passed legislation to require stricter background screening policies for employees who work with kids. An auditor recently audited 76 of the 732 summer camps held by the university in 2016 to see if there has been any progress. They found 7.9 percent of the camps they checked had at least one missing clearance for at least one staffer. The auditor says this number is a great concern, but a statement from Penn State says they have made great strides since 2012. They are also implementing a new human resources system at the end of the year to ensure all background checks are performed and cleared before any applicant starts work.

Banning the Box on College Applications

While Penn State focusses on employees’ criminal backgrounds, colleges and universities in Louisiana will be banning the box on all student applications. Governor John bel Edwards signed the legislation into law. ACT 276 prohibits post-secondary schools from asking applicants about past criminal history until after they have been accepted. The one exception would be allowing schools to ask about convictions for stalking, rape and sexual battery during the admissions process. A student’s entire criminal history can come into play after they have been accepted or when they apply for financial aid or housing. The new law goes into effect on August 1.

New California Law Now in Effect

A new law that affects employers is now in effect in California. As of July 1st, the California Fair Employment & Housing Council’s (FEHC) Consideration of Criminal History in Employment Decisions Regulations will restrict how employers can use criminal records in their hiring process. Employers may not consider any arrest or detention that did not result in a conviction, juvenile records, sealed or expunged records or any non-felony conviction for possession of marijuana that is more than two years old.

Need tips on your organization's background screening policy? You'll find them in our free, on-demand webinar:  The Step-by-Step Guide to Creating & Improving Your Background Screening Policy

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