Chipotle Facing Meaty FCRA Class Action Lawsuit

It’s been a tough year for Chipotle. In January, a major pork shortage that affected nearly a third of all locations nationwide disrupted the chain’s carnitas supply for months. Last month, the burrito chain faced a class action claim that it had been using GMOs in its food, despite advertising to the contrary. Now comes word that a former applicant is accusing the fresh-mex restaurant of shady hiring practices. In particular, a California woman says Chipotle buried an applicant’s consent to a background check in other messy language.

Consent Form 101

For anyone who is a longtime reader of ActiveCare, you know this a big No-No! Basic Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) law states that employers must use a separate, stand-alone document to obtain consent. No additional language. No other hiring materials. No other extraneous information. The form is simple and direct.

Here’s what a disclosure form needs to have:

  • It’s written
  • It’s asked for on a form separate from any other forms related to the candidate’s application for the job
  • It’s required if you will hire an outside agency (like Active Screening) to check out a candidate
  • Consent often includes the right to inquire about a candidate’s credit report (but this should be specifically stated)
  • There can be no waivers, additional wording, or other unneccessary information on the form that can be confusing to applicants
  • The disclosure must provide specific information about the person’s rights to obtain information regarding the investigative report, including that they can view the file maintained by the consumer reporting agency, obtain a copy of the file by mail or in person, or obtain a summary of the report over the telephone.
  • It’s required to obtain extra information like school transcripts or military service records
  • An applicant does NOT have to consent to a background check. You are entitled to take them out of consideration if they do not consent.

Where Did Chipotle Go Wrong? Here’s what the plaintiff in the case is claiming:

1.) The application contained a disclosure allowing the company to conduct background check reports on applicants that was surrounded by other language pertaining to additional information requiring her consent.

2.) The chain didn’t provide a box to check to obtain information regarding the investigative report or provide information on how to get a copy of the report.

The FCRA requires any employer intending to run a consumer report to first disclose to applicants or employees that a consumer report may be obtained for employment purposes. This disclosure cannot be included in an employment application or other document that contains any extraneous information. The employer must also obtain an employee’s or applicant’s written consent before running the report.

Employers also must comply with specific reporting requirements. Before obtaining a consumer report from a consumer reporting agency, the employer must provide certification to the reporting agency that they are requesting the report for employment purposes; have provided the required disclosure to the applicant; have obtained the necessary written consent to obtain the report; will provide the applicant with a copy of the report along with notifying them of their rights before taking any adverse action based in whole or in part on the results; an will not use the results from the report in a manner that violates federal or state equal opportunity laws.

If the allegations prove true, Chipotle may find itself in the same situation as several other big-name companies who’ve made glaring FCRA bungles. Check out this list:

Whole Foods.

Panera.

Paramount Pictures.

Nearly all of those cases were settled for large amounts.

Protect Yourself

So, what can you do to ensure the third-party CRA you’ve hired to conduct your background checks is on the ball with consent and compliance? Ask to see the forms. Have an employment attorney review them. And conduct your own periodic reviews of your CRAs consent forms to pick up if anything has been changed.

In Active Screening’s case, we have made our consent form templates completely transparent and available on our website. The template we offer is in full compliance with federal and state laws. It has been vetted by our FCRA attorney who is a veteran in the industry. If you want to take a look for yourself, click here. There’s even some state specific forms for California and New York who have additional compliance laws employers and CRAs need to follow.

Active Screening’s templates are for instructional purposes only. Active Screening recommends consulting your legal counsel prior to using these templates to ensure your compliance with all state and federal laws. 

We’d like to hear from you on this matter, though! Why do you think so many high-profile companies are still falling victim to violating FCRA law – especially when it comes to consent documents? Leave a comment below or shoot us an email here.

This entry was posted in Applicant-Entry Solutions, Background Screening, General, Human Resources, Industry Solutions, News and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , by Patricia Carlson. Bookmark the permalink.

Patricia Carlson is a content writer who specializes in B2C and B2B inbound marketing. She blogs regularly for clients about the background screening and finance industries, and generates newsletters, white papers and email campaigns for a variety of businesses. Patricia also produces a heavy rotation of editorial material for home design, law enforcement, and family magazines. She’s been writing professionally for more than a dozen years, and for Active Screening for more than two of those. Check out LinkedIn for a roster of Patricia’s clients and links to published works. When she’s not interviewing sources or researching trends, she’s living a fast-paced Florida life questioning the antics of her two young children, partner and mischievous cat. Patricia loves to talk tennis and TV on Twitter – give her a shout @pattycfreelance.

 
        
Active ScreeningBarbara S.
Healthcare Industry

"Here at Holland Hospital, we have been extremely pleased with Active Screening. The report results come back quickly, usually within 24 hours or less.  The staff at Active Screening is easy accessible, knowledgeable and responds to our questions promptly."

Active ScreeningLynn C. Staffing Industry

"Benton Mobley has been and remains my Main point of contact at Active Screening from the beginning; so aside from the comfort of dealing with the same person all these years, there is the most important fact of all;  customer satisfaction. Benton knows the business like the back of his hand; and that is what we need in our fast paced industry of staffing. He is the all-time BEST!  MY employer, Leslie, believes in the notion that great service deserves to be rewarded, so we are here for the duration.We get immediate and personalized attention for any and all concerns we need addressed, and in the staffing industry, this is vital."

Active ScreeningCayce R. Education Industry

"My experience working with Active Screening for our background check process has been very positive.  The reports are almost always completed in a very timely fashion. The information reported appears to be very thorough and accurate.  On the rare occasions that we have questions or problems, the customer service team is always very quick to respond and resolve the issue.  Overall, I am very pleased with the service I receive from Active Screening."

Active ScreeningCraig H. Staffing Industry

"Your customer service is excellent.  The turn around time on background checks is quite fast.  Excellent work.  I haven't had a single problem."

Active ScreeningJackie C. Education Industry

"I wanted to thank you and your staff for being so patient and working so diligently with the Human Resources staff during our recent endeavor to process all of our work study students through background screenings.  We have never had to process so many requests within such a short period of time before, but thanks to you and your staff we made it. Again thank you, we made a good choice in selecting Active Screening."

Active ScreeningLindsey W.  Financial Industry

"I wanted to share my appreciation for your wonderful service...switching background screening companies could have been a stressful task, but your company made the transition seamless. Your website was extremely easy to navigate and the turn around time has been great. I appreciate when information is missing or entered incorrectly during ordering, your company notifies me right away to ensure that my error does not hold the reports results, causing us a delay in hiring an individual...Active Screening has been great to us and I would definitely refer them to others."

Active ScreeningTerry S. Property Management

"Working with Active Screening over the last year and half has been a wonderful experience. They deliver fast and informative results at the best price. Their level of professionalism and the speed they respond to our issues is a benefit that any company can value from. I would highly recommend using Active Screening and their amazing team."

Active ScreeningYulesis D.  Staffing Industry

“Interactive Response Technologies (IRT) has more than 2,000 employees at multiple locations across the United States. IRT has been using Active Screening to conduct criminal background checks since 2006. During this time, Active Screening has consistently returned accurate reports, usually with less than 48 hours turnaround. If there are any problems or inconsistencies with the reports, their staff has called to notify us so that we can attempt to rectify the situation. The staff at Active Screening is always courteous and congenial over the phone. In our opinion, Active Screening is outstanding.”

Active ScreeningAndy N. Software Provider

 "Active Screening has helped us screen our applicants in record time for more than two years.... we are very impressed with the professionalism and speed with which their service team responds to our questions. They understand our needs and are a pleasure to work with. I highly recommend them."

Active ScreeningCassie J. Staffing Industry

"The Active Screening team is very informative; they provided a complete consultation on all the services, so I understood what I needed, and saved me hours and hours of my time learning the various services. Their reputation, as being on the cutting edge of employment screening best practices, certainly held true in this instance. The expertise they brought to the table was invaluable to our understanding of our applicants backgrounds. I highly recommend Active Screening to anyone with the task of screening large numbers of applicants and needing reliable customer support."

Active Screening

With over 20 years of law enforcement experience I can attest to the fact that the strongest predictor of future criminal behavior is a person’s criminal history. As the manager of campus safety at my church, I depend on Active Screening to provide a thorough assessment of every criminal history background check we request. For more than 3 years, Active Screening has been faithful to this task with timely, accurate and reliable service.

Active Screening

We have benefited from knowing that we are not exposing the communities we work with or ourselves to unnecessary risk. We continue to have a perfect record in that we have never had a serious incident with a trip participant causing harm or acting inappropriately with any community member or fellow team member- thank goodness!

Active Screening

I would highly recommend any association or organization who conducts background checks to use Active Screening. In addition to my involvement with WAHA, I am an officer in a corporation with over 500 employees who provide treatment, mental health, and correctional services for children and adolescents. Our company is mandated by law to do comprehensive background searches and I can say with the utmost sincerity that Active Screening product rivals that of any government or other private sector process.

Active Screening

We have used Active Screening and their solution VERITY to screen all our coaches and volunteers working with youth. The online system gives us an easy and cost-effective solution to collecting forms and payments from our applicants...and we simply login to view the results of who passed or failed. It's so easy....thank you Active Screening.