Eastern District of Pennsylvania’s Federal Court Decision on Wright v. Lincoln Property Company

Wright v. Lincoln Property Company

A recent federal court decision out of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on Wright v. Lincoln Property Company dealt with how employers can comply with the adverse action process (pursuant to the FCRA) if it relies on an initial background report before revoking a job offer, but then receives an additional corrected report. In the case of Wright v. Lincoln Property Company, the plaintiff Wright was given a conditional job offer contingent upon passing the employment background check. The first report procured on Wright was dated June 6, 2017, as a pending or partial report that uncovered a misdemeanor conviction for driving under the influence, and two separate drug-related felonies.

On June 13, 2017, a more comprehensive completed report was sent to the employer with the aforementioned criminal records listed; however, the applicant Wright did not receive the report from June 13, 2017, and brought an FCRA violated against the employer for not following the pre-adverse/adverse action process. The plaintiff argued that the report from June 6, 2017 did not satisfy the FCRA because it did “not contain the required information, including a summary of rights and advance notice of [the employer’s] intention to withdraw its job offer based on the report.” Plaintiff also argued that the employer took adverse action based on the report dated June 13, 2017 which the plaintiff did not receive a copy of.

Wright v. Lincoln Property CompanyThe court decided to leave the fate of the situation in the hands of the jury to resolve the dispute. In doing so, the court noted that the employer revoked the offer because of the convictions listed in both reports and that while there were no material differences between the criminal history included in the two reports, the final, June 13, 2017 report “contain[ed] a more thorough summary of other types of searches run by [the background check company], such as credit report” and the plaintiff “remained unable to contest the full information upon which [the employer] relied even if he indeed received the June 6th transmittal, given that it only included his criminal history.” Because a copy of the final report was not sent to the plaintiff, the court denied the employer’s motion for summary judgment.

It is imperative that employers understand their obligation to comply with federal and state law when conducting employment background checks. This includes the following FCRA notice requirements:
  • Privileged review of their background check process documents
  • Processing of documents and notices
  • Procedures used when ordering background reports and relying on them when making employment decisions