When Kroger Company of Michigan recently announced that it was purchasing Hiller’s Markets, Hiller’s employees were told that they would have to reapply for their jobs to continue working for Kroger after the changeover this summer. Like many other companies, Kroger requires applicants to agree to a formal employee background check that may include an investigation into your criminal record, credit history, and other personal information.
Be Aware of Your FCRA Rights!
If you are asked to submit to a background check as part of an application process, a federal law called the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) seeks to ensure that the both the process and the use of any findings are used appropriately. Under FCRA, an employer who chooses to conduct criminal record and credit checks on you must:
- Notify you of the employer’s intent to use a reporting agency to perform the background investigation, making sure that you are fully aware of its use prior to having you agree to the investigation;
- Obtain your express, signed consent to the investigation in a way that is “clear and conspicuous” and separate from other sections of a job application;
- Notify you if a decision to deny employment, deny promotion, or terminate is based in some way on the background investigation findings; and
- Supply you with the contact information of the agency that conducted the background investigation, and offer you reasonable time to correct any mistakes contained in the report.
Unfortunately, FCRA violations are not uncommon in the grocery industry. In the past few years, Food Lion, Publix, and Whole Foods have paid multimillion-dollar settlements to compensate victims of improper employment background checks.
If you are applying to Kroger or any other employer and believe that a required background investigation failed to comply with state and federal laws, the attorneys in Sommers Schwartz’ Employment Litigation Group are available to discuss your situation and help you protect your rights. Please contact us today.