A Wisconsin man has threatened to sue over 46 companies that had elected to perform an employment background check on him as part of the hiring process. Cory Groshek, 33, of Green Bay has applied to over 562 jobs in an 18-month span, one of which included Time Warner Cable. In January of 2015 Cory submitted a 2,300-word letter to representatives at Time Warner Cable threatening to sue for violations of consumer protection laws under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Groshek was confident that he could win a jury trial that would pay him “upwards of $5-$10 million” unless the company would elect to settle for a 6 figures pay out.
Cory Groshek had no intent of becoming a valuable employee to any of the 562 companies he applied to. His plan was to process with an employer who would conduct an employment background check as part of the hiring process to see if any part of the FCRA has been violated. Once he identified employers who violated the FCRA he would then threatened a class action lawsuit and demand a settlement. Findings of filed court records show that his plan is working, Groshek has been able to extort or extract more than $230,000 in legal settlements from companies across the US.
How was he doing it? The FCRA specifically states that when an employer procures a background check for hiring purposes they must make a “clear and conspicuous disclosure” of their intention to do so. More importantly this disclosure must be a page in lengthy and separate from any other employment form (i.e. job application). So far, Groshek has been able to receive relatively small settlements from about 20 companies ($5,000 – $35,000), 3 others have been sued in federal court by Groshek (those cases are currently “pending”).
What can employers do to deter any type claims brought by people like Cory Groshek?
-Retain services of a compliant 3rd party vendor.
-Ensure that the vendor is in compliance with federal and state law.
-Review all new hire forms especially the disclosure and authorization along with specific notices that applicants must receive.
-Ensure that the disclosure and authorization form is separate from all other onboarding paperwork.
-Consult with legal counsel before implementing any type of background screening policy/practice.
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