Amtrak—America’s premier railroad—has recently come under scrutiny for conducting background checks on job applicants. The company may have obtained background checks on applicants without proper authorization. What’s worse, Amtrak has been charged with rejecting applicants based on erroneous background reports. The company stands accused of rejecting applicants without providing copies of their background reports. This practice is believed to have the largest effect on applicants with common names or criminal records who are denied employment without an individual assessment of their qualifications. In at least one case Amtrak accused a highly qualified applicant of a crime which he was never convicted of.
Federal law requires prospective employers to provide all job applicants with a clear disclosure in writing of their intent to obtain a background report. Employers have to get your authorization before they obtain a background report. Background checks often include false information that can frustrate your employment prospects, and the law gives you a chance to correct it. It is not uncommon for a background report to erroneously include information—even criminal offenses—about a different person. Consequently, employers must give you notice of their intent not to hire you because of information contained in your background report. You are entitled to a copy of your report at no charge BEFORE the employer denies your application for employment. In certain circumstances, you may be entitled to statutory damages if an employer fails to comply with the law relating to background checks.
Background check attorneys at CounselOne are investigating Amtrak’s background check practices. If you’ve applied at Amtrak, or have relevant information, we’d like to hear from you.
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