Plaintiff William Jones filed a class action lawsuit against Waffle House in October 2015. Despite having worked for Waffle House “without issue” for more than 20 years, he claims the company denied him a job that he reapplied for based on the results of a background check that showed he had a criminal history.
Jones says Waffle House never notified him that it intended to deny his job application and never provided him with a copy of the background check.
The plaintiff alleges that Waffle House denied applicants for employment based on background checks the company acquired from The Source for Public Data LP, also named as a defendant in the class action lawsuit.
According to the class action lawsuit, Public Data claims it is not a consumer reporting agency but instead just an aggregator of public records. As such, Jones says, the company places the burden on those subject to its reports to correct any errant data at the source. “Public Data does not recognize any duty under the FCRA to correct the data itself,” Jones says.
Waffle House filed an appeal to dismiss the proposed FCRA class action against the company, which was subsequently denied by the judge. On August, 2016, Waffle House announced that it will appeal the judge’s decision. The judge rejected Waffle House’s claims that they had “no recollection or record” of using Public Data to perform a background check.
In its notice of appeal, Waffle House argues that the Plaintiff signed an arbitration agreement when applying for the job and requested that the judge compel arbitration. Following the judge’s refusal to dismiss the lawsuit, Waffle House announced that it would seek an appeal to the Eleventh Circuit, citing failures of the Florida court to follow the Federal Arbitration Act.
The above issue is a prime example of why employers should engage the services of an accredited, qualified and experienced consumer reporting agency that provides background screening services. It is especially important to use a CRA that uses only official sources of data and confirms all information from online databases with the courts.
William G. Jones v. Waffle House Inc. et al., case number 6:15-cv-01637, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division