UPDATE: Nov. 15, 2023: ADP has reached a settlement with the plaintiffs in Ramos, III v. ADP Screening and Selection Services, Inc., according to court documents filed Nov. 7. Details of the settlement have not been made publicly available at this time. The plaintiff's attorney declined to comment further, and HR Dive did not hear back from ADP by press time.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include a statement from ADP.
A Connecticut job seeker has filed a lawsuit against ADP’s background-check screening arm, alleging the company violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act when it incorrectly reported he was a convicted drug dealer, costing him a newly offered job.
The plaintiff applied for a job as a part-time patient coordinator at a Connecticut dental practice sometime around August 2022, according to the May 10 complaint, Ramos, III, v. ADP Screening and Selection Services, Inc. He was offered the job, contingent on a successful background check.
The dental practice used ADP Screening and Selection Services to conduct the background check, the complaint said. The company used two methods: its own proprietary software, “ADP Crim Radar,” and a third-party vendor, which checked the criminal records at a local courthouse.
While its own software found no criminal records, the vendor reported that the plaintiff had four criminal convictions, including a felony conviction for possession with intent to sell/dispense. The vendor falsely reported that the plaintiff’s birth date matched that of the individual in the courthouse records, the complaint alleged; instead, it had returned records of a different individual with the same name, the plaintiff claimed.
Even though the courthouse records were inconsistent with its own findings, ADP did not conduct further investigations to ensure the plaintiff and the individual named in the courthouse records were the same, the complaint said, though obtaining the criminal files would have revealed different birth dates, social security numbers, addresses and cities of residence.
After receiving the results of the background check, the dental office revoked the plaintiff’s job offer. While the plaintiff was allowed to dispute the information, ADP only allows this after sending the report to the employer, according to the complaint.
ADP violated the FCRA by failing to “follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy,” a compliance procedure required by the law, the complaint alleged.
The complaint is being proposed as a class action representing all members who have previously successfully disputed background-check claims returned to employers by ADP. Because ADP conducts over 10 million background checks each year and self-reports an accuracy rate of “greater than 99 percent,” according to the complaint, there may be 100,000 inaccurate reports annually, resulting in potentially “hundreds of thousands of individuals within the class definition.”
The plaintiff and putative class are seeking statutory damages “of not less than $100 and not more than $1,000,” in addition to punitive damages and attorney fees and costs, per the complaint.
Employers and vendors have a number of obligations under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The Society for Human Resource Management has published a checklist to help HR pros comply, including tips like obtaining an employee’s written consent to conduct a background check and allowing the employee five business days to dispute the returned information before making an employment decision.
In a statement to HR Dive, ADP said it planned to dispute the allegations.
“At ADP, integrity and compliance is of utmost importance to us. We have strong and proven procedures in place that comply with FCRA rules. This includes engaging public record researchers to obtain accessible records from the actual courts, to ensure that ADP Screening and Selection Services provides accurate and reliable background screening results to our clients,” ADP said. “These vendors are required to follow specific procedures in the review of these records. We are disputing the allegations put forth in this complaint, however, as this is ongoing litigation, we cannot share additional details at this time.”