Whole Foods Market Group, Inc., and the plaintiff, Colin Speer, on behalf of himself and a proposed class of similarly situated individuals, agreed to a preliminary settlement of Mr. Speer’s FCRA Class Action lawsuit. The settlement provides for Whole Foods to pay $802,700 to create a fund for settlement payments to be made to approximately 20,000 class members.

This case was originally filed by Mr. Speer’s lawyers in December 2014, in the United States District Court, Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division. The lawsuit alleged that Whole Foods violated the FCRA by failing to comply with the FCRA’s disclosure and authorization requirements related to consumer reports procured for “employment purposes.” Specifically, the lawsuit alleged that Whole Food’s inclusion of a liability waiver in the disclosure and/or authorization/consent document(s) presented to its applicants violated Section 604(b)(2)(A) of the FCRA.

As part of the Settlement Agreement, Whole Foods specifically denied that it engaged in any wrongdoing. Further, Whole Foods did not admit or concede any actual or potential fault, wrongdoing or liability in connection with any facts or claims that had been alleged against it in the Action, and denied that the claims asserted by Mr. Speer were suitable for class treatment other than for settlement purposes. Whole Foods denied that it had any liability whatsoever.

There have been a plethora of similar FCRA class action lawsuits for several years, and the reality of these lawsuits is that the only real winners are the predatory plaintiff attorneys, who extract settlements from companies, because litigation is so expensive, and willful violations of the FCRA do not require that any damages be proven by these attorneys. In this lawsuit, each class member will receive only about $24, while the attorneys will receive over $300,000, and this settlement pales when compared to numerous multi-million dollar settlements in other FCRA class action suits.

Companies and organizations who have not reviewed their employee background screening procedures and disclosures, should do so now. A reliable background screening company can provide a consultative review of your firm’s employee screening processes to help ensure that your organization is not the next target of an FCRA class action lawsuit.

Posted by: Rudy Troisi. President, Reliable Background Screening.