SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Nikita Ivanov, Sean Houghton

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
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
There's Big Data, then there's really Big Data from the Internet of Things. IoT is evolving to include many data possibilities like new types of event, log and network data. The volumes are enormous, generating tens of billions of logs per day, which raise data challenges. Early IoT deployments are relying heavily on both the cloud and managed service providers to navigate these challenges. In her session at Big Data Expo®, Hannah Smalltree, Director at Treasure Data, discussed how IoT, Big D...
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
In her General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Anne Plese, Senior Consultant, Cloud Product Marketing, at Verizon Enterprise, focused on finding the right mix of renting vs. buying Oracle capacity to scale to meet business demands, and offer validated Oracle database TCO models for Oracle development and testing environments. Anne Plese is a marketing and technology enthusiast/realist with over 19+ years in high tech. At Verizon Enterprise, she focuses on driving growth for the Verizon Cloud platfo...
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrateg...
SYS-CON Events announced today Isomorphic Software, the global leader in high-end, web-based business applications, will exhibit at SYS-CON's DevOps Summit 2015 New York, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Isomorphic Software is the global leader in high-end, web-based business applications. We develop, market, and support the SmartClient & Smart GWT HTML5/Ajax platform, combining the productivity and performance of traditional desktop software ...
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series dat...
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built to optimize Microsoft workloads, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Gridstore™ is the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built for Microsoft workloads and designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Gridstore’s hyper-converged infrastructure is the ...
The 4th International DevOps Summit, co-located with16th International Cloud Expo – being held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY – announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's large...
The Internet of Things promises to transform businesses (and lives), but navigating the business and technical path to success can be difficult to understand. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sean Lorenz, Technical Product Manager for Xively at LogMeIn, demonstrated how to approach creating broadly successful connected customer solutions using real world business transformation studies including New England BioLabs and more.
WebRTC defines no default signaling protocol, causing fragmentation between WebRTC silos. SIP and XMPP provide possibilities, but come with considerable complexity and are not designed for use in a web environment. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Matthew Hodgson, technical co-founder of the Matrix.org, discussed how Matrix is a new non-profit Open Source Project that defines both a new HTTP-based standard for VoIP & IM signaling and provides reference implementations.
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Ar...
"SAP had made a big transition into the cloud as we believe it has significant value for our customers, drives innovation and is easy to consume. When you look at the SAP portfolio, SAP HANA is the underlying platform and it powers all of our platforms and all of our analytics," explained Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce at SAP, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.