Click here to close now.

Welcome!

News Feed Item

General Information Services Announces Settlement of King v. GIS and Dowell v. GIS

Soon, the parties in King v. General Information Services and Dowell v. General Information Services will file settlement documents asking the court to approve a settlement of the claims in the cases. GIS is releasing information about this proposed settlement because GIS's refusal in the past to comment on pending litigation has resulted in misleading public statements about the cases and about GIS.

Apart from reaching a monetary resolution, the parties agreed on important changes to background reporting that they anticipate the rest of the industry will rapidly adopt. Specifically, when GIS reports a criminal case in which conviction occurred and that is more than seven years old, GIS will remove all non-conviction count information. The settlement sets out narrow exceptions where the provision of that information would be allowed. GIS will also remove any indication of count numbers in the case, so that users of the report will not infer the existence of unlisted counts.

For those who have not been following the cases, GIS's pending motion for summary judgment in the King case sets out the facts underlying the case:

  • GIS reported a single criminal case that resulted in a conviction that occurred more than seven years ago.
  • As a part of reporting the conviction in the case, GIS reported that the plaintiff pled guilty to one count in the charge and that the prosecutor declined to prosecute the other counts in the charge.
  • This information was accurate, was complete, and reflected the publicly available information at the time of the report.
  • The employer decided not to hire the plaintiff on the basis of the one offense for which she pled guilty and was convicted, not on the other offenses.

The plaintiff’s claim is that reporting the counts that the prosecutor charged but ultimately decided not to prosecute, as part of reporting the conviction in that same criminal case, violates the Fair Credit Reporting Act's prohibition on reporting "any other adverse item of information, other than records of convictions of crimes which antedates the report by more than seven years."

GIS filed a summary judgment motion based on the facts above, and the plaintiff’s lawyers responded thoroughly. The parties disagreed over the following legal issues:

  • Whether the records that GIS reported about the criminal case are "records of conviction" that the FCRA allows.
  • Whether the information about the non-convictions was adverse to the plaintiff.
  • Whether GIS acted on a reasonable interpretation of the FCRA, so was not willfully violating it.
  • Whether the FCRA violates the First Amendment’s freedom of speech by prohibiting GIS from communicating public records to someone who is not prohibited from using them.

The plaintiffs’ claims in the Dowell case are similar, the main difference being that the users of the reports in the Dowell case certified that the reports were not for employment, but were for access to secure facilities.

Continuing the cases to trial would place financial and management burdens on GIS. The plaintiffs’ lawyers have alleged a class action, in which the plaintiffs would represent everyone about whom GIS issued a report in which GIS reported non-conviction count information as part of a case in which a conviction occurred more than seven years ago. This class has approximately 50,000 reports in it. If the jury found GIS to have willfully violated the FCRA (erroneously, in GIS’s opinion), GIS would be liable for statutory damages of $100 to $1000 per report. The risk of a runaway verdict, which would absorb resources that could be better used improving GIS's services for its clients, compels GIS to settle the case. GIS does not admit any wrongdoing in the settlement, but is agreeing to pay a total of $3.4m to settle the case.

The settlement sets important standards for the consumer-reporting industry on reporting this kind of non-conviction count information. Under the settlement, when GIS reports a criminal case in which conviction occurred and that is more than seven years old, GIS will remove all non-conviction count information. GIS has already made the operating and system changes that this settlement requires to meet this standard going forward.

The settlement acknowledges that not every report of non-conviction count information over seven years old will violate the FCRA. It therefore includes specific permission to communicate non-conviction count information in the following narrow circumstances:

  • Disclosure of non-conviction count information to the subject of that information
  • Disclosure of non-conviction count information as required by court order
  • Re-communication of archived reports to the original user where the original user is not making any current decision based on the report
  • Reports that are not governed by the FCRA (for example, a report for use in a misconduct investigation that the FCRA defines as not being a consumer report)
  • Reports where an exception in the FCRA allows reporting of non-conviction count information over seven years old
  • Reports where other law pre-empts the FCRA
  • Provision of copies of government documents including non-conviction count information when needed for audit purposes imposed by law or self-regulatory regime (for example, when an employer hires a person into a regulated position)
  • Provision of non-conviction count information for use after the subject of the report requests individualized assessment of the criminal history and the dismissed counts could be relevant to the assessment (for example, under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s guidance on criminal history)
  • Provision of non-conviction count information to confirm the that the subject of the report fairly reported his or her own criminal history (for example, when the subject mis-identifies the count on which conviction occurred, but does fairly identify the case)
  • Reports to be used strictly outside the United States
  • Reports to other consumer reporting agencies for their use in preparing a report to an end-user

GIS believes that these exceptions in the settlement establish clear guidance for the industry for when reporting non-conviction count information is not adverse. These exceptions allow the industry to continue playing a positive role in helping employers manage risk and promoting employment of genuinely rehabilitated offenders.

About General Information Services, Inc. (GIS)

GIS has been providing services since 1966 and serves thousands of customers nationwide, from small business to Fortune 100 companies, by providing comprehensive background screening, onboarding and industry specific hiring services. Between its headquarters in Chapin, S.C. and the Western Operations Center in Dallas, Texas, GIS currently employs over 700 people. For more information, please visit www.geninfo.com.

More Stories By Business Wire

Copyright © 2009 Business Wire. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Business Wire content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Business Wire. Business Wire shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

Latest Stories
In the midst of the widespread popularity and adoption of cloud computing, it seems like everything is being offered “as a Service” these days: Infrastructure? Check. Platform? You bet. Software? Absolutely. Toaster? It’s only a matter of time. With service providers positioning vastly differing offerings under a generic “cloud” umbrella, it’s all too easy to get confused about what’s actually being offered. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Kevin Hazard, Director of Digital Content for SoftL...
Agile, which started in the development organization, has gradually expanded into other areas downstream - namely IT and Operations. Teams – then teams of teams – have streamlined processes, improved feedback loops and driven a much faster pace into IT departments which have had profound effects on the entire organization. In his session at DevOps Summit, Anders Wallgren, Chief Technology Officer of Electric Cloud, will discuss how DevOps and Continuous Delivery have emerged to help connect dev...
Today air travel is a minefield of delays, hassles and customer disappointment. Airlines struggle to revitalize the experience. GE and M2Mi will demonstrate practical examples of how IoT solutions are helping airlines bring back personalization, reduce trip time and improve reliability. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Dr. Sarah Cooper, M2Mi’s VP Business Development and Engineering, will explore the IoT cloud-based platform technologies drivi...
Containers are changing the security landscape for software development and deployment. As with any security solutions, security approaches that work for developers, operations personnel and security professionals is a requirement. In his session at DevOps Summit, Kevin Gilpin, CTO and Co-Founder of Conjur, will discuss various security considerations for container-based infrastructure and related DevOps workflows.
It is one thing to build single industrial IoT applications, but what will it take to build the Smart Cities and truly society-changing applications of the future? The technology won’t be the problem, it will be the number of parties that need to work together and be aligned in their motivation to succeed. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jason Mondanaro, Director, Product Management at Metanga, discussed how you can plan to cooperate, partner, and form lasting all-star teams to change the world...
Overgrown applications have given way to modular applications, driven by the need to break larger problems into smaller problems. Similarly large monolithic development processes have been forced to be broken into smaller agile development cycles. Looking at trends in software development, microservices architectures meet the same demands. Additional benefits of microservices architectures are compartmentalization and a limited impact of service failure versus a complete software malfunction. ...
Internet of Things is moving from being a hype to a reality. Experts estimate that internet connected cars will grow to 152 million, while over 100 million internet connected wireless light bulbs and lamps will be operational by 2020. These and many other intriguing statistics highlight the importance of Internet powered devices and how market penetration is going to multiply many times over in the next few years.
Internet of Things (IoT) will be a hybrid ecosystem of diverse devices and sensors collaborating with operational and enterprise systems to create the next big application. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Bramh Gupta, founder and CEO of robomq.io, and Fred Yatzeck, principal architect leading product development at robomq.io, discussed how choosing the right middleware and integration strategy from the get-go will enable IoT solution developers to adapt and grow with the industry, while at th...
Containers have changed the mind of IT in DevOps. They enable developers to work with dev, test, stage and production environments identically. Containers provide the right abstraction for microservices and many cloud platforms have integrated them into deployment pipelines. DevOps and Containers together help companies to achieve their business goals faster and more effectively. In his session at DevOps Summit, Ruslan Synytsky, CEO and Co-founder of Jelastic, reviewed the current landscape of...
Malicious agents are moving faster than the speed of business. Even more worrisome, most companies are relying on legacy approaches to security that are no longer capable of meeting current threats. In the modern cloud, threat diversity is rapidly expanding, necessitating more sophisticated security protocols than those used in the past or in desktop environments. Yet companies are falling for cloud security myths that were truths at one time but have evolved out of existence.
The cloud has transformed how we think about software quality. Instead of preventing failures, we must focus on automatic recovery from failure. In other words, resilience trumps traditional quality measures. Continuous delivery models further squeeze traditional notions of quality. Remember the venerable project management Iron Triangle? Among time, scope, and cost, you can only fix two or quality will suffer. Only in today's DevOps world, continuous testing, integration, and deployment upend...
The time is ripe for high speed resilient software defined storage solutions with unlimited scalability. ISS has been working with the leading open source projects and developed a commercial high performance solution that is able to grow forever without performance limitations. In his session at Cloud Expo, Alex Gorbachev, President of Intelligent Systems Services Inc., shared foundation principles of Ceph architecture, as well as the design to deliver this storage to traditional SAN storage co...
To many people, IoT is a buzzword whose value is not understood. Many people think IoT is all about wearables and home automation. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, discussed some incredible game-changing use cases and how they are transforming industries like agriculture, manufacturing, health care, and smart cities. He will discuss cool technologies like smart dust, robotics, smart labels, and much more. Prepare...
"We provide a web application framework for building really sophisticated web applications that run on a browser without any installation need so we get used for biotech, defense, and banking applications," noted Charles Kendrick, CTO and Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @DevOpsSummit (http://DevOpsSummit.SYS-CON.com), held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York
The Internet of Things is not only adding billions of sensors and billions of terabytes to the Internet. It is also forcing a fundamental change in the way we envision Information Technology. For the first time, more data is being created by devices at the edge of the Internet rather than from centralized systems. What does this mean for today's IT professional? In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed this very serious issue of pro...