Hertz accused of violating background check rules

Original article appeared in Naples Daily News (Florida)

By Laura Layden

The Hertz Corp. faces a lawsuit alleging it has violated federal rules in handling background checks for its job applicants.
The suit was filed Tuesday in San Francisco federal court against Hertz, its subsidiary Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group Inc. and Sterling Infosystems Inc., a global provider of employment screening and background checks.

Filed as a class action, it alleges Hertz and Sterling have failed to follow notice, disclosure and authorization requirements under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, resulting in the unfair treatment of job applicants.

“We’ve just received the complaint and won’t be able to comment until we have at least completed a review of the complaint and an investigation of the allegations,” Beth Davis, a public affairs manager for Hertz, said in an email.

No spokesman for Sterling could be reached immediately for comment.

The suit was filed by Peter Lee of Richmond, California, who is represented by the law firm Outten & Golden LLP and the nonprofit Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Hertz recently took back its offer to hire Lee after getting a negative background check report on him. He claims Hertz never told him it planned to order the report, never obtained his permission in writing to get it and never provided him a copy of the results before deciding not to hire him as required by federal law.

“I’m hoping to help ensure that Hertz and Sterling follow the law, so that people who want to come work for Hertz have a fair chance,” he said in a statement.

According to the suit, Hertz recruited Lee to apply for a job as a counter sales representative for its Dollar-Thrifty rental car location at the San Francisco International Airport in May 2014, while he was employed in a similar position at a competing company.

After he was offered the job and given a start date, he received a call from a Hertz recruiter who told him he would not be hired after all because of the criminal history discovered in his background report and that he was being turned away based on “Hertz policy.”

After his job offer was rescinded, Lee requested a copy of his background report from Sterling, the company that prepared it. The report included pending criminal charges involving possession of a controlled substance. He was arrested in June 2012, while visiting relatives.

Lee’s legal team seeks to represent Hertz job applicants nationwide.

“It’s very important to get folks with criminal backgrounds back to work and to make sure they’re able to have a fair chance to get employment, and the Fair Credit Reporting Act is an important piece of that. It ensures that background checks are conducted fairly and accurately and that job applicants have an opportunity to review the report before the company makes any sort of decision about whether to hire the person,” said Katrina L. Eiland, one of Lee’s attorneys with Outten & Golden.

The lawsuit alleges Hertz routinely has failed to provide copies of negative background reports to job applicants before deciding not to hire them. It also claims Sterling often fails to notify job applicants in a timely fashion about information it has shared with employers that could hurt their ability to get hired.

Hertz, which is building a new world headquarters in Estero, has 30,000 employees worldwide, including hundreds in Southwest Florida.

The class size for the lawsuit is unknown.