May 30, 2014 5:00 PM, EDT
Court Approves Settlement in New Jersey Background Check Lawsuit

A New Jersey federal court on May 29 approved an $870,500 settlement agreement between New Jersey-based New England Motor Freight and a group of 7,000 truck drivers who alleged in a 2012 lawsuit that the carrier denied them employment after conducting criminal background checks and obtaining credit reports and driver history records without their authorization.

The lead plaintiff in the lawsuit was a driver who the carrier did not hire because it conducted, without his authorization, a background check that erroneously identified him as a convicted felon, said the driver’s attorney, Matthew Dooley of Sheffield Village, Ohio.

“That particular problem unfortunately is not uncommon in this day and age with so many people and so many common names,” Dooley told Transport Topics.

Dooley said the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that drivers be notified that a carrier plans to conduct background or credit checks, and afterward the carrier is required to provide an applicant with a written copy of a “pre-adverse action notice,” giving the would-be employee an opportunity to respond to the findings that caused the driver to not get the job.

“We were advised that some of the procedures that we were following did not follow the protocol of the Fair Credit Reporting Act,” Thomas Connery, chief operating officer of New England Motor Freight, told TT. “We have since identified and corrected these deficiencies in our processes.”