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October 16, 2019Cart

Business

by Westchester County Business Journal
by WCBJ

Mount Vernon woman sues staffing companies for blocking job over juvenile record

Twelve years after a Mount Vernon woman committed minor infractions as a juvenile, staffing firms stopped her from getting a health care job.

That woman has sued the firms in federal court in White Plains, claiming in a class-action lawsuit that they violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

The lawsuit names Cross Country Healthcare Inc., a publicly traded staffing company based in Boca Raton, Florida, and its Optimal Workforce Solutions and Medical Staffing Network affiliates.

The woman, now 32, filed the complaint under a pseudonym, Jane Doe.

In 2016, she applied to Cross Country Healthcare for a patient care assistant position at Westchester Medical Center.

She was interviewed at the hospital and offered the job at $16 an hour. A letter from Optimal Workforce Solutions confirmed the offer, contingent on a “background screen.”

Doe signed the acceptance papers and returned to the hospital for a tour and introduction to the staff.

Later that day, the complaint states, a Cross Country Healthcare human resources manager called and said the background check had flagged her case. She was ineligible for the job.

Doe states she did not understand what was flagged. Later she learned that Cross Country had hired Accutrace Inc., a Coatesville, Pennsylvania company, to check on her in public and private databases.

Accutrace, which is not named as a defendant, found a record of a 2004 incident and decided she was not eligible for the job.

The complaint does not disclose any specific offense or circumstances. Her request to proceed under a pseudonym mentions an order sealing a noncriminal conviction and a misdemeanor adjudication concerning two separate incidents.

“She has not revealed her juvenile criminal record history to anyone other than family and closest friends,” her attorney, Adam G. Singer, says in a memorandum of law. “She fears that people would treat her differently and unfavorably if they knew the details of her past as a juvenile offender.”

Singer argued that neither record should have been disclosed.

What’s more, he said, anyone using such a report to deny a job must first notify the applicant and include a copy of the report before taking an adverse action.

Even if a criminal record automatically disqualifies an applicant, the complaint states, citing Federal Trade Commission guidance, the applicant must be given the information before the adverse decision is made.

“Indeed, this is precisely the situation where it is important that the consumer be informed,” the FTC guidance states, “in case the report is inaccurate or incomplete.”

The staffing companies did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

Eight days after Doe’s job offer was rescinded, Medical Staffing mailed a “preliminary notice of adverse action” and enclosed the Accutrace report. Then a second letter, titled “adverse action notice,” was mailed.

“At this time,” the letter states, “Medical Staffing Network is unable to hire you based on the information included in your report.”

It wasn’t until Doe got the letters and report, the complaint states, that she realized that the “red flag” referred to her juvenile record.

She notified Accutrace about inaccuracies in the report and the company sent her a corrected version.

Optimal notified her by letter that she would be hired after all, starting on Dec. 12, 2016, one month after her original start date.

Doe got the job, but she claims that the staffing companies violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act. She is asking the court to certify her complaint as a class action, for the benefit of hundreds, if not thousands, of job applicants who were denied jobs before receiving adverse reports.