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Wegmans Accused of Violating Fair Credit Reporting Act

A recently filed class action alleges that Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans Food Markets violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by failing to give proper notification to job applicants and employees who were the subjects of consumer background reports, according to published reports.


The lead plaintiffs are Rochester resident Ashleigh Wheeler, hired in 2013 by Wegmans as a cashier, and Jerah Brewster, of Ithaca, N.Y., hired in 2015 as a pharmacy technician and who later worked as a coffee shop attendant. The civil suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New Yok by Rochester law firm Thomas & Solomon on behalf of all U.S. employees and job applicants who were the subjects of consumer reports obtained by Wegmans over the past five years.


“Using the services of a third party, Wegmans routinely obtains and relies on information in the consumer report to evaluate prospective and current employees,” the lawsuit said, adding that the company “acted willfully and in deliberate or reckless disregard of its obligations and the rights of plaintiffs Wheeler, Brewster and other class members without making the required disclosure.”


According to the suit, Wheeler and Brewster completed Wegmans’ standard electronic documents related to their anticipated employment, including authorization to run a background check, but Wegmans’ online authorization for a background check failed to clarify that the company would obtain consumer reports.


The FCRA requires an employer or prospective employer to inform in writing a person who would be the subject of a consumer report before the report is obtained, in a document solely for that purpose, which Wegmans didn’t do, the suit alleges.Under the law, applicants additionally have a right to obtain their consumer reports and have any errors in the reports corrected.The suit claims that Wegmans' background check authorization document also releases Wegmans, former employers and all other persons or entities contacted by the company from all liabilities related to the release of information related to the check. The plaintiffs maintain that the inclusion of this provision in the same document as the background authorization violates the FCRA, and that they were misled about the nature and purpose of giving consent and had their privacy invaded.


“We are confident that our process for screening job applicants, including the disclosure that a background check will be conducted, fully complies with federal law,” noted Wegmans VP of Media Relations Jo Natale in a statement.


The lawsuit seeks not less than $100 and not more than $1,000 for each violation, in addition to punitive damages.

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