Court: Law Limiting Background Checks to 7 Years Is Constitutional

A federal district court has upheld a federal law that makes it illegal for consumer reporting agencies, such as employee screening companies, to reveal background check information that is more than seven years old.

In 2010, Shamara King applied for a job with the U.S. Postal Service, which ordered a background check from General Information Services (GIS) Inc. during the application process. The report that GIS returned contained arrest records going back nearly 10 years.

After being turned down for the Postal Service job due to this report, King brought a class-action suit against GIS for failing to comply with section 1681c of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). She alleged that GIS maintained a policy and practice of willfully reporting outdated adverse public information, including records of arrest that should be excluded from the consumer reports it sells.

GIS claimed that FCRA’s seven-year time limit violates the First Amendment.

On Nov. 9, Federal District Court Judge Petrese B. Tucker ruled against GIS in its motion that FCRA is unconstitutional. The court ruled that the information being provided by GIS is private and does not significantly contribute to public dialogue, so FCRA does not violate the First Amendment. The U.S. Department of Justice successfully argued against GIS’ defense.

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