Class Action Lawsuit – Why Negotiating Towards a Class Action Settlement Can Be Important
There seems to be some sort of class action lawsuit today over Chipotle Mexican Grill. In May of 2021, I wrote an article about this very issue. Now, the woman in question who was applying for a position at the popular chain is suing them for not properly disclosing their background check information on the job application. According to her class action lawsuit, Chipotle’s application forms improperly asked for permission to perform a background search, which they did not require of applicants. Consequently, the woman is suing them for violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act by requesting that applicants sign a release form for employment background reports.
Although I’m not sure what the exact language of the Fair Credit Reporting Act or whether there are any federal regulations regarding the wording of the form, I believe this example illustrates an important distinction: When a company is asking applicants for permission to perform a background search, they need to specifically say it on the application. If the company is not expressly asking for permission, there is no reason to require the applicant to do so on the application documents. In short, I believe that the restaurant is asking applicants for permission to perform a background search, not requiring them to do so explicitly and, thus, violating the FRCA.
According to the class action lawsuit filed by the plaintiff in the above case, a few months after being hired at Chipotle, she went to a meeting with several other employees of the restaurant. During this meeting, according to the complaint, the plaintiff’s son complained to her that he didn’t think the company’s background check policy was appropriate. After listening to the complaint, the lead investigator for the food chain, according to her attorney, got the idea that it would be inappropriate for the company to ask applicants to release their personal records. Thus, he asked the restaurant to amend the document that required the applicant to release her personal records.
The Chipotle executives, however, did not make this request to the plaintiffs’ attorney until after the amended document had been used in the initial discovery proceedings. Even then, however, the defendants failed to inform the lead investigator about what was contained in the complaint and deposition transcripts. The amended complaint further described the records that were requested and provided that information to the plaintiffs’ attorney at the very least two weeks before filing. By this time, however, the lead investigator for the food chain had already obtained the complaint and related discovery documents, which according to the law, must be received by the plaintiff within a reasonable amount of time. To put it plainly, the defendants had at least a few days before the lawsuit was filed with the court prior to learning what exactly was contained in the complaint and discovery documents.
Thus, at this point, it is clear that the Chipotle defendants violated both the letter and the spirit of the law when they delayed the discovery process and made the claim that the lead investigator obtained the information needed from the Chipotle website in order to provide the class action lawsuit with the necessary evidence to win the case. Again, it is undisputed that the information on the Chipotle website do not support or deny liability. The only issue here is whether the defendants violated the statute of limitations, which in most states is one year from the date of the incident. Accordingly, if the Chipotle defendants truly believe that the plaintiff’s case will fail because of the information on the Chipotle website (which they do not), they must show that they reasonably believed that the plaintiff would have suffered a worse result, i.e., granting the class action lawsuit.
To achieve such a result, the plaintiffs need to find a competent class action lawsuit settlement firm. If this cannot be done, the case will inevitably proceed to judgment and the defendant will ultimately pay the cost of the damages to all class members, including their attorneys. Therefore, the discovery process must be handled properly in order to obtain a favorable result for all class members. If either the district court or the Court of Appeals incorrectly rules, the class action lawsuit may indeed go to trial. Again, for this reason, selecting the right class action settlement firm is critical.