State Farm Defeats Job Applicant’s Credit Check Lawsuit

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By Jon Steingart

State Farm defeated a lawsuit by a job applicant who said it didn’t give him a chance to review incorrect information in a credit check before it turned him down for a job.

The ruling cites a Fair Credit Reporting Act precedent the U.S. Supreme Court established in 2016. The justices ruled that a business publishing information about someone that’s inaccurate but doesn’t cause harm may not violate his rights under the FCRA.

The applicant in this case, Bobby Dutta, said State Farm relied on inaccuracies in his credit history when it rejected him for a job. The report showed he had unpaid debt, but certain information about the debt was incorrect, he said.

Under State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company’s hiring criteria, however, the details weren’t important, the federal appeals court found. The debt itself was enough to disqualify the applicant, Judge Eric N. Vitaliano wrote for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The court upheld earlier dismissal of Dutta’s claim because the inaccuracies in his credit report weren’t the reason he wasn’t hired.

Judges Richard A. Paez and Sandra S. Ikuta joined the opinion.

The case is Dutta v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 9th Cir., No. 16-17216, dismissal affirmed 7/13/18.

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