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While employers may utilize credit reports and other screening devices, such as criminal background checks, during the hiring process, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) imposes strict rules and procedures that must be followed. The failure to do so, either through willful acts or negligence, can result in liability to employees and job applicants.

The FCRA comes into play any time a “consumer report” is obtained by an employer. A consumer report is, in essence, “any written, oral, or other communication by a third party (a company paid by the employer to gather or provide information) that relates to the employee or applicant’s credit worthiness, credit standing, credit capacity, character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of living.”

Among the acts or omissions that may lead to litigation and liability under the FCRA are:

  • The failure to notify the employee or applicant that a consumer report is being obtained for employment purposes, and to certify that it will be obtained and used in a manner consistent with all applicable State and Federal laws;
  • The failure to obtain the employee’s or applicant’s consent before obtaining the consumer report;
  • The failure to provide a stand-alone document that notifies the employee or applicant of his or her rights and memorializes his or her consent to the background check. In other words, the notice/consent form cannot be part of an employment application or buried within the hiring forms provided by the employer;
  • The failure, before taking any adverse employment action based on a consumer report, to (1) provide a copy of the report, (2) advise the employee or applicant of the right to dispute the report, (3) provide information regarding how the dispute may be disputed.

Where these procedures are not followed, employees or applicants may have a claim under the FCRA, and may be entitled to damages, even if they are hired.

If you feel that your employer, or a prospective employer, has not followed the proper procedures relating to credit or other background checks, or if you are an employee that wishes to ensure that you are in compliance with this highly technical law, we are here to help.

For more information on the FCRA, please visit our FAQ page.

Management Representation

Below are some of the legal services we offer to our management clients:

Wage and Hour Issues under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA): Our firm routinely assists businesses to ensure compliance with the minimum wage, overtime and record keeping requirements mandated by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Additionally, we represent companies in audits conducted by the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor, as well as in defense of private litigation brought by current and former employees against businesses seeking back wages and overtime pay.

Proactive Investigation of Administrative Charges: A significant part of our management practice involves assisting in-house counsel, executive management teams and human resources departments with the timely investigation of administrative charges from various state and federal agencies, such as the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR). We conduct comprehensive and discrete investigations and interviews in defense of these charges, as well as assisting our clients with the organization and presentation of thorough responses to any such charges.

Employment Defense Litigation: Our firm aggressively protects and defends our business clients against employment-related discrimination claims in our state and federal courts. Additionally, we frequently represent companies in connection with the mediation and arbitration of employment-related disputes.

Jill S. Schwartz & Associates, P.A. has been dedicated to representing whistleblowers in the workplace since 1993. Whistleblowers are employees who object to violations of laws or regulations and who experience retaliation as a result. We understand the courage it takes to speak out against illegal behavior, and we have a dedicated team of attorneys and staff who focus on whistleblower litigation to assist you in every step of the process.

As part of our whistleblower practice, we represent clients in a broad range of Qui Tam claims under both federal and state False Claims Acts. Under these acts, private individuals have the ability to disclose to the Government details of fraud being committed against it, bring a suit on behalf of the Government to recover the fraudulently obtained funds, and potentially share in the recovery of such funds. These are unique claims that require counsel experienced in such matters.

Common Qui Tam claims include:

  • Health care fraud, including Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare fraud;
  • Kickbacks and Stark violations;
  • Pharmaceutical sales fraud;
  • Hospice fraud;
  • Hospital fraud;
  • Nursing home and home health fraud;
  • Government contractor fraud, including fraud by Defense contractors and construction contractors;
  • Federal grant fraud;
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) fraud;
  • For-profit education fraud;
  • Department of Transportation (“DOT”) fraud;
  • Department of Veterans Affairs fraud;
  • Mortgage fraud

Both federal and state False Claims Acts also provide protection against retaliation for whistleblowers. It is illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee who objects to suspected fraudulent use of government funds. Before reporting fraud in your place of employment, you should know your rights under the law. Consulting with an attorney can help ensure that you report the illegal activity in a manner that is fully protected. If you have already faced retaliation, including harassment, demotion, or termination, for opposing or reporting suspected fraudulent activity, we are here to help.

Jill S. Schwartz & Associates, P.A. recognizes that most of us spend the majority of our waking hours in the workplace. The wrongful disruption or termination of a career is frequently accompanied by frustration, anxiety and depression. We understand that illegal discrimination, harassment and retaliation impact both employees and their families.

We provide aggressive, caring and individualized attention to protecting and defending the rights of our employee clients. Our firm is privileged to represent clients with a variety of workplace issues including:

  • Age/Gender
  • Sexual Harassment/Assault
  • Race
  • Disability
  • Pregnancy
  • National Origin
  • Religion
  • Wrongful Termination
  • and all other protected classifications

Additionally, we have extensive experience representing whistleblowersemployees who object to violations of laws, rules or regulations and who experience retaliation as a result. We also represent employees in Qui Tam and False Claims Act matters. These are situations in which an employee becomes aware of fraud, waste and abuse of government funds.

Our attorneys regularly litigate claims involving unpaid wages and overtime compensation, non-compete agreements, employment contracts, severance agreements and Family and Medical Leave Act claims. We also assist with unemployment appeals, worker’s compensation retaliation claims, and private and public sector grievances. We provide comprehensive guidance from the initial administrative processes through mediation, trial, and appeals.

We are committed to the principle that all people deserve equal employment opportunities in the workplace. Our firm is a leader in the State of Florida in the protection of employee rights.

Jill S. Schwartz & Associates, P.A. represents union boards and their memberships by providing the following services:

  • Administrative representation through the grievance process, including assistance with drafting grievances, as well as representation through the arbitration process.
  • Attendance at membership and board meetings to address legal questions and concerns.
  • Providing training to union members on employment law and grievance process issues.
  • Negotiation of collective bargaining agreements.

As a Certified Florida Supreme Court Mediator, Jill Schwartz provides mediation services for all types of civil litigation, including employment law matters. She is also certified by the Fifth District Court of Appeal as an appellate mediator. Additionally, Ms. Schwartz was selected by the EEOC and the U.S. Postal Service to mediate employment matters for these agencies.

Ms. Schwartz has continued to attend and conduct seminars on alternative dispute resolution. Ms. Schwartz mediates litigation pending in the United States District Courts and Florida State Courts. She also conducts pre-suit mediation.

Ms. Schwartz is a qualified arbitrator and has served as an instructor for the Supreme Court of Florida Dispute Resolution Center, Arbitration Certification Training and the Florida Bar.

Our offices are conveniently located in Winter Park, Florida and provide ample parking and a comfortable, spacious atmosphere in which to conduct mediations.