Swift agrees to $4.4 million class action settlement over background checks

By Clarissa Hawes, Land Line staff writer | 4/25/2014

Swift Transportation has agreed to pay $4.4 million to settle a class action lawsuit filed in July 2013, after a truck driver filed a complaint against the mega-carrier. The driver alleged that Swift failed to “properly” disclose its hiring practices, including background checks.

As many as 10,000 drivers may be part of the class, according to the plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary approval filed Monday, April 21, in federal court in Virginia. Plaintiffs’ attorneys state Swift’s improper hiring practices go back six years, and those who applied for a trucking job with Swift from July 23, 2008, to Sept. 30, 2012, may be part of the class.

According to court documents, James Ellis III, a named plaintiff in the case, filed suit, claiming the company “does not provide or obtain appropriate disclosure and authorization from job applicants … prior to acquiring these criminal background reports.”

Ellis claims that after he applied for a job with Swift in 2012, the company procured a consumer report and a criminal background check from HireRight without his consent.

After receiving Ellis’ background report, Swift “took adverse action” against Ellis, disqualifying him from further consideration for employment and did not provide him with a “pre-adverse action notice,” a violation of the FCRA.

“At no time did Swift provide plaintiff (Ellis) with the notice required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act within three business days of taking the adverse action,” the complaint alleges. Ellis claims he also was not informed by Swift that he could request a free copy of the report and “dispute the accuracy or completeness of the report within the consumer reporting agency.”

“Swift agrees to and will cause to be paid a total sum of $4.4 million, including attorneys’ fees and costs and service awards to the named plaintiffs to settle all claims set forth by the preliminary settlement class,” according to court documents.

According to the proposed preliminary settlement, McGladrey LLP, an independent third party, will administer the settlement, if approved.

A year ago, in April 2013, U.S. Xpress settled a class action lawsuit for $2.75 million over background checks involving HireRight – which was also fined $2.6 million by the Federal Trade Commission in August 2012 for numerous violations under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Copyright © OOIDA