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Nurse Sues Background Check Company Over Alleged FCRA Violations

Johnson County nurse says job offer was pulled as a result

By Clark Kauffman – Iowa Capital Dispatch

A Johnson County nurse is suing a background-check company for allegedly costing her a job offer.

Jennifer Malatek is suing First Advantage Background Services in U.S. District Court. She alleges the company violated the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, which regulates not just credit reports, but also background checks made for employment purposes.

In her court petition, Malatek says she has been a registered nurse for 24 years and has a valid, multistate nursing license that enables her to practice throughout the state of Iowa.

In 2014, the Iowa Board of Nursing alleged Malatek tested positive for marijuana use and had admitted to using the drug. In March 2015, her license was suspended pending the completion of treatment and was then placed on probation. In August 2016, the board found Malatek had successfully satisfied the terms of the suspension order and her license was fully restored.

In 2017, Malatek resumed her career as a nurse and had no further issues with the Board of Nursing. In November 2021, she applied for a nursing position with Aveanna Healthcare and was extended a conditional job offer contingent on the outcome of a background check. In February 2022, Aveanna rescinded its job offer, citing the results of the background check.

Malatek then made inquiries with First Advantage, the company that had performed the check, and received a copy of the company’s report on her. The report allegedly failed to indicate she had a valid multistate nursing license while indicating she had eight separate licensing sanctions on her record.

Six of the eight entries referenced the same case that had led to her license suspension years before and two entries referenced the board’s subsequent finding that she had fulfilled all of the board’s requirements. The report also indicated her license had been “suspended indefinitely” without indicating the license had been fully restored in 2016, the lawsuit claims.

In addition, the report allegedly made a “patently inaccurate” reference to Malatek’s California nursing license being “suspended” in 2016, when it had actually expired.

In her lawsuit, Malatek alleges she filed two case disputes with First Advantage, but the company failed to respond to either. The lawsuit alleges First Advantage “had all of the information necessary to provide an accurate report from the outset,” as evidenced by hyperlinked Board of Nursing documents that were included within its own background report.

“Instead of employing reasonable procedures, as required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act, (First Advantage) blindly collects information from unreliable third-party vendors to repackage and sell in its own employment screening products,” the lawsuit claims. The company, Malatek’s lawsuit alleges, “has been sued under the FCRA by consumers in the past for inaccurately reporting professional license information and/or disciplinary history.”

Malatek’s lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for “job denial, damage to her reputation, financial instability, wasted time, sleepless nights, fear of applying for jobs, and emotional distress, including mental anguish, frustration, humiliation, embarrassment and other losses.”

First Advantage has yet to file a response to the lawsuit and no one from the company or its public relations firm could be reached for comment last Friday.

First Advantage was the target of two recently settled class-action lawsuits filed by consumers who claimed the company did not have their permission — usually obtained by prospective employers during the application process — before running checks on them. The company did not admit any wrongdoing but agreed to offer consumers discounted services to resolve their claims.