Background check into workers’ comp claims isn’t subject to Fair Credit Reporting Act

Here’s some good news for em­­ployers that check workers’ compensation claims against an applicant’s claim he’s never been injured on the job: You don’t have to inform him where you got the information be­­fore you take action because workers’ comp checks aren’t background in­­vestigations subject to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

Recent case: Jason Bachman applied for a job as a mailman with the U.S. Postal Service. He was hired and completed a standard medical assessment form, which asked whether he had ever been injured on the job. He answered “No.”

The post office then investigated and found Bachman had filed prior claims. It fired him for essentially lying on his form.

Bachman sued, alleging he should have been informed about the investigation before being terminated. He contended the investigation was a consumer report subject to the FCRA.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed his case. It said the investigation wasn’t a consumer report because his past injuries weren’t related to his credit worthiness, character, general reputation or mode of living. (Bachman v. Donahoe, No. 11-11060, 5th Cir., 2012)

Final note: It appears the inquiry into medical history was made post-offer. Thus, it was legal if it was business related. Presumably, one’s ability to walk or drive is important when delivering mail. In addition, Bachman was terminated for not being up front about his past claims, not because he had claims.