Under a federal law that requires employers to inform job applicants that they may obtain their credit reports as part of the application process, an employer cannot make applicants sign a release from liability before procuring the report. (Sarmad Syed v. M-I, LLC, No. 14-17186 (9th Cir. 2017). In a case of first impression in the federal circuit, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that a prospective employer violates the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) when it procures a job applicant’s consumer report after including a liability waiver in the same document as the disclosure to the applicant.
In amending FCRA in 1996 to require employer disclosure, “Congress was specifically concerned that … employers were obtaining and using consumer reports in a manner that violated job applicants’ privacy rights,” the panel wrote, especially in light of inaccurate information often contained in reports. The law requires an employer to disclose that it may obtain an applicant’s credit report and enables the applicant to withhold authorization, or to warn the employer that the report might contain errors. Continue reading