Tyrone Jude of Tennessee has filed a class action lawsuit against Nashville-based real estate investment firm, Freeman Webb, charging the corporation with violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act in their practice of failing to provide proper notices and disclosures to job applicants and employees of their company. The suit alleges that Freeman Webb does not inform its applicants and employees via written notice that it will conduct consumer reports and background checks on them, and also that they do not provide applicants and employees copies of such reports before taking adverse action against them. Both practices infringe on the rights of Freeman Webb applicants and employees per the Fair Credit Reporting Act, according to the complaint.
Freeman Webb is a privately owned retail property firm with major markets in the Southern and Midwestern United States. It has been in business for over thirty-five years, with over 450 real estate associates. In October 2014, the plaintiff was hired to work at the Greentree Point Apartment Complex in Lebanon, Tennessee. About four months later, the complex was purchased and taken over by Freeman Webb. According to both the plaintiff and defendant, a background check was conducted on Jude. Subsequently, he was terminated via a telephone call from the company.
The lawsuit asserts that Freeman Webb fired Jude without following proper legal protocol regarding credit and background checks as dictated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Instead, the company skipped the pre-adverse action process. Under the Act, Freeman Webb was required to send Jude a pre-adverse action notice, including a copy of the consumer report and a summary of his rights. This must be done prior to taking adverse action against him. The complaint states that Freeman Webb failed to send any notice to Jude, report copies, or summaries of his rights. The news of his termination was simply delivered in a phone call.
The reason the Fair Credit Reporting Act dictates that applicants and employees have the opportunity to review their consumer and credit background checks is so they have a chance to discuss it with their employer or potential employer before being terminated or losing out on a job. Yet, the lawsuit states that Freeman Webb neglects to follow this official protocol. Instead, applicants and employees are directed to the company that conducted the background check.
This unlawful disclosure, as well as Freeman Webb’s refusal to send the applicants and employees the proper notices and summaries of rights, entitles the plaintiff and fellow class members to statutory damages of more than $100—and no more than $1,000—per person.
This case was filed in late September, 2015. We will update the status in January, 2015.