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Long v. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

April 5, 2017

FRANK LONG, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
SOUTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM

          TUCKER, C.J.

         Presently before the Court are Defendant Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority's Motion to Dismiss the First Amended Class Action Complaint (Doc. 25), Plaintiffs' Memorandum of Law in Opposition thereto (Doc. 27), and Defendant's Reply in Further Support of its Motion (Doc. 34). Upon careful consideration of the parties' submissions and the arguments presented to the Court during Oral Argument held on October 12, 2016, and for the reasons set forth below, Defendant's Motion is GRANTED.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         A. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”)

         This action arises out of alleged violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq., and Pennsylvania state law.[1] The FCRA was created “to ensure fair and accurate credit reporting, promote efficiency in the banking system, and protect consumer privacy.” Safeco Ins. Co. of Am. v. Burr, 551 U.S. 47, 52 (2007). The FCRA requires employers who obtain consumer reports for employment purposes to provide a clear and conspicuous disclosure, in writing, and in a document that consists solely of the disclosure (“stand-alone disclosure”) to the consumer, before procurement. 15 U.S.C. § 1681b(b)(2)(A)(i) and (ii). The FCRA also requires employers to provide a consumer with a copy of his consumer report and a summary of rights under the FCRA before taking any adverse action against him. 15 U.S.C. § 1681b(b)(3)(A)(i) and (ii). Adverse actions include “a denial of employment or any other decision for employment purposes that adversely affects any current or prospective employee” and “an action taken or determination that is . . . adverse to the interests of the consumer.” 15 U.S.C. § 1681a(k)(1)(B).

         “Any person who willfully fails to comply with any requirement [of the FCRA] with respect to any consumer is liable to that consumer.” 15 U.S.C. § 1681n(a).

         B. The Parties and Allegations

         Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (“SEPTA”) is a public transit authority organized under the laws of the Pennsylvania with its headquarters in Philadelphia. (Compl. ¶ 33.) SEPTA is alleged to be a “person using consumer reports . . . for employment purposes” who “has taken adverse action . . . based wholly or in part on” Plaintiffs' consumer reports. (Compl. ¶ 34.) Plaintiffs Frank Long, Joseph Shipley, and Michael White are Philadelphia residents who applied and interviewed for positions with SEPTA between 2014 and 2016. (Compl. ¶¶ 21, 23-28, 30-31.) For the purposes of this Memorandum, Plaintiffs are assumed to be “Consumers” as defined by the FCRA, 15 U.S.C. § 1681a(c). Plaintiffs allege that they were denied employment by SEPTA because of their criminal history. (Compl. ¶¶ 44, 57, 69.)

         Plaintiffs assert that they completed forms disclosing prior drug-related convictions and authorizing SEPTA to conduct background checks. (Compl. ¶¶ 42, 52, 65.) Plaintiffs claim that the forms did not comply with the FCRA's stand-alone disclosure requirement. Specifically, Plaintiffs allege that the forms contained extraneous language, including language inquiring about their educational history, employment history, probation or parole status, and job suitability. Plaintiffs further allege that SEPTA did not provide any other authorization form that complied with the FCRA. (Compl.¶¶ 43, 53, 66.)

         Plaintiffs also allege that SEPTA did not provide Plaintiffs with a copy of their consumer reports or a summary of their rights under the FCRA before revoking or denying their employment offers. (Compl. ¶ 85.)

         Plaintiff Long filed a class action complaint in this Court on April 27, 2016. Long later amended his complaint, adding Shipley and White on May 26, 2016 (“First Amended Complaint”). In Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs assert four claims against SEPTA.[2] First, Plaintiffs allege that SEPTA willfully violated the FCRA because SEPTA failed to provide a clear and conspicuous written disclosure, which would meet the FCRA's stand- alone requirement, before obtaining Plaintiffs' consumer reports. (Compl. ¶¶ 112, 114-16.) Second, Plaintiffs allege that SEPTA willfully violated the FCRA by failing to provide consumer reports to Plaintiffs before revoking their employment offers. (Compl. ¶¶ 120-21, 123-25.) Third, Plaintiffs allege that SEPTA willfully violated the FCRA by failing to provide Plaintiffs with a summary of their rights under the FCRA before taking adverse employment actions against them. (Compl. ¶¶ 129-30.) Lastly, Plaintiffs allege that SEPTA violated Pennsylvania state law. (Compl. ¶¶ 138-39, 142.)

         In the First Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs do not allege that their consumer reports were inaccurate in any way.

         Plaintiffs seek, inter alia, injunctive and declaratory relief, actual or statutory damages, and exemplary and punitive damages. (Compl. ¶ 14.)

         II. ...


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