New Federal lawsuit alleges that Southeastern Pennsylvania Authority Transit Authority (SEPTA) willfully violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and state law by utilizing criminal records that exceed the 7 year reporting period set forth in the FCRA. The class action suit levied against the nation’s sixth largest public transportation system claims that SEPTA rejected job applicants based on information procured by third party background screening companies. It’s also alleged that SEPTA violated the FCRA by not having a “clear and conspicuous” written disclosure explaining that a consumer report is being conducted for employment suitability. Otherwise known as a “stand alone” disclosure, the separate form ensures accuracy and explains the rights of the job applicant. The FCRA specifically states that the disclosure MUST be a separate document/independent document.
SEPTA was also accused of violating the Pennsylvania Criminal History Record Information Act (CHRIA) through its practices of disqualifying job applicants with unrelated past criminal felony records involving the operation of SEPTA vehicles. This point speaks to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) Guidance on Arrest/Conviction records that states employer should look at the crime and positon involved are related. Kristen Clarke president and director of the Lawyers’ Committee of Civil Rights under law stated “When employers conduct background checks on job applicants, they must comply with the law and ensure that the rights of job applicants are protected. Today’s litigation is part of our comprehensive efforts to ensure that employers do not abuse background screening report when screening job applicants.”
The main plaintiff in the case, 56 year old Frank Long, a resident of Philadelphia and a commercial licensed bus driver applied for a driving position in October of 2014, only to see the job offer rescinded after he was subjected to SEPTA’s criminal background check process. Mr. Long was convicted on a drug related felony over 20 years ago. This is in pure violation of the FCRA which states only convictions that have occurred within the last 7 years are reportable. The plaintiff and legal team seeks injunctive and declaratory relief; statutory damages; exemplary and punitive damages; pre-judgment and post-judgment interest; and reasonable attorneys’ fees, costs, and expenses associated with this action.