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District Court Dismisses FCRA Background Check Class Action Claim on Statute of Limitations Grounds

posted on 2016-01-28 by TIM J. ST. GEORGE, DAVID M. GETTINGS AND DAVID N. ANTHONY

On November 9, 2015, Terria Harris filed an Amended Complaint against Home Depot U.S.A., Inc. in a Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) background check class action lawsuit.  In this complaint, she alleged that Home Depot violated the FCRA’s background check disclosure requirement because the disclosure she signed was allegedly “embedded with extraneous information.”  As a result, the plaintiff argued, the disclosure was not a “stand-alone document,” in violation of the FCRA.

In response to the complaint, Home Depot moved for summary judgment, arguing the claim was barred by the FCRA’s statute of limitations.  The applicable statute of limitations requires a plaintiff to bring a claim either two years after the date of discovery by the plaintiff of the violation, or five years after the date on which the violation occurs, whichever is earlier.  Because the plaintiff viewed and signed the allegedly offending disclosure in February of 2011, Home Depot argued the claim brought in 2015 was untimely.

The Court agreed with Home Depot, stating that “a reasonably diligent person would have discovered the facts giving rise to Harris’ FCRA … claims by March 1, 2011.”  It concluded that the plaintiff’s FCRA claim was time-barred.  The Court’s decision should serve as a reminder to employers hit with FCRA lawsuits to analyze the timeliness of a plaintiff’s claim.  Even the most meritorious FCRA claim may not be actionable if the plaintiff fails to assert his or her rights until it is too late.

Troutman Sanders LLP has substantial experience in counseling employers on disclosure form documents under the FCRA, as well as experience in litigating challenges to such claims.  We will continue to monitor this and similar cases.