Dollar Tree lawsuit alleges retailer obtains background checks without notification

(Photo Credit: Collins Unlimited/Shutterstock)

Dollar Tree background checks lawsuit overview: 

  • Who: Plaintiff Eddie Jonathan Smith, who applied for a job at Dollar Tree, is suing the discount retailer.
  • Why: Smith says Dollar Tree violates the rights of job applicants by refusing to hire people based on background checks, when the person has no prior access to the reports.
  • Where: The Dollar Tree background checks lawsuit was filed in Virginia federal court.

A man who applied for a job at Dollar Tree is suing the discount retailer after he says the company had an incorrect background check performed on him, and then refused to hire him.

Plaintiff Eddie Jonathan Smith filed the class action lawsuit against Dollar Tree Inc. on June 14 in a Virginia federal court, alleging violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

Smith claims that Dollar Tree systematically violates the rights of job applicants that it obtains consumer reports — or background checks — about. 

Smith says he and other job applicants were harmed when the company relied on the reports and checks to take adverse employment actions without beforehand providing the person “sufficient and timely notification and a copy of the report and a summary of rights” under the FCRA.

“These failures leave applicants without any meaningful opportunity to correct any errors on the report or to discuss the content of the report with Dollar Tree,” he says.

The plaintiff’s experience with Dollar Tree

In October 2023, Smith applied for a job with Dollar Tree and was given a conditional offer of employment contingent on passing a background check, he claims. 

Dollar Tree then ordered a consumer report about Smith from the background check company it allegedly contracts with, Sterling. 

However, “devastatingly for Mr. Smith, Sterling included on its report criminal convictions that did not belong to Mr. Smith, but rather a different person of the same name,” the lawsuit states.  

Smith says Dollar Tree told him the results of the background check and told him to contact Sterling if he wanted to dispute the results. He says he submitted his dispute the next day, and Sterling removed the criminal records and corrected the report that day.

“Despite receiving this clean background check on October 26, 2023, Dollar Tree did not hire Mr. Smith or make any effort to contact him at all,” the lawsuit says.

Smith alleges that Dollar Tree’s initial adverse decision was in fact the final decision, and the purported pre-action notice provided “was a sham.”

He claims Dollar Tree violated the FCRA, as the company is required to provide notice, a copy of the background reports and a statement of FCRA rights before it takes “adverse action.”

He says he suffered financial and reputational harm, loss of employment opportunity, and emotional distress. He’s looking to represent any candidates for new employment, continued employment, transfer or promotion at Dollar Tree who were the subject of a background report containing one or more items of adverse information which the company treated as disqualifying, over the last two years.

Smith is seeking certification of the class action, damages, fees, costs and a jury trial. 

In May, Hormel Foods recalled two specific lots of Planters nuts due to potential exposure to listeria, after the nuts were distributed to Publix and Dollar Tree in a total of five states.

What do you think of the claims in this Dollar Tree background check lawsuit? Let us know in the comments.

The plaintiff is represented by Leonard A. Bennett, Drew D. Sarrett and Craig C. Marchiando of Consumer Litigation Associates P.C. and James A. Francis, John Soumilas and Lauren KW Brennan of Francis Mailman Soumilas.

The Dollar Tree background checks class action lawsuit is Eddie Jonathan Smith v. Dollar Tree Inc., Case No. 2:24-cv-00384 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.  

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