Legal Action After False Accusation and Question About Credit Checks

Catherine writes:
I enjoy your blog. I don’t think I have ever seen either of my
questions (or problem) in your blog postings. Both deal with background
Recently I was terminated from a position I had held for only a month.
They claimed to have received information from a law-enforcement agency showing that I had committed a crime. After checking with the
agency mentioned I learned they had no such information. I suspect
that a former employer or someone in his office where I worked previously
made the false accusations. Can I take legal action?
My second question now that I am back in the job market is that some of the
places I have applied to are requiring that I sign a release to allow them to
get my credit report. I feel this is an invasion of my privacy since none of
positions I have applied for have any connection to money or finances. Is this
something new?

The Career Doctor responds:
Background checks are here to stay I am afraid. And I don’t want to
get angry emails from hiring managers but I hate how far we’ve gone
with them. I can certainly understand clearance and background checks
for jobs that involve the nation’s security but what really does a person’s
credit score say about their trustworthiness?
When I was an employer we checked references and that was about it. And
we rarely called all the references. For a more sensitive position maybe a
drug test. Other employers conducted a battery of psychological and other personality assessments.
I also believe your very brief former employer was in the wrong in even hiring you
before finishing the background check and wrong again in the over-reaction to the
false information. Whether what they did was a violation of your rights I can’t
answer but recommend you consult with an employment lawyer to gather more
information. You can find one by going to the
National Employment Lawyers Association.
As for credit reports the group of job-seekers this screening hurts the most are
low-wage job-seekers who perhaps do not even have credit. And I agree with you –
unless it’s a job that involves handling money what business is it of employers?
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