Rite Aid and LexisNexis Cases Linked, Judge Says
(CN) - A federal judge refused to assign a class action accusing Rite Aid of using an illegal LexisNexis background check on prospective employees to a new judge, saying it's similar enough to a case already before him.
U.S. District Judge Jan DuBois in Philadelphia said the newer class action, filed in March, "shares a central core of common facts" with a 2011 class action filed against LexisNexis Risk & Information Analytics Group.
"Both are putative class actions concerning LexisNexis's employment adjudications using the Esteem database," DuBois wrote, referring to a LexisNexis database that classifies individuals as thieves based on alleged "admission statements" submitted by employers.
In the March lawsuit against Rite Aid and LexisNexis Search Solutions Inc., lead plaintiff Kyra Moore claimed the retailer refused to hire her when a background check using the Esteem database deemed her "noncompetitive." She said she'd never stolen from her previous employer, CVS, but may have set aside some items for future purchase that were later put back on the shelves or taken by someone else.
Moore designated the case as related to Goode v. LexisNexis Risk & Information Analytics Group Inc., an action filed by former Forman Mills and Dollar General employees also accused of theft.
The plaintiffs in that lawsuit accuse LexisNexis of violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by denying them the opportunity to contest the Esteem reports. They say LexisNexis has a "contractual quid pro quo" arrangement with subscribers, whereby Esteem subscribers are required to contribute new records of theft incidents in exchange for database access to vet job applicants.
DuBois refused to dismiss the Goode case last year.
In a five-page order last week, he rejected motions by Rite Aid and LexisNexis to have Moore's complaint randomly assigned to another judge and to strike its designation as related to the Goode complaint.
"Rite Aid asserts that Goode and Moore are unrelated because of differences in the parties, allegations, time period, and requested remedies," DuBois wrote. "By concentrating on how the cases diverge, defendant's arguments miss the mark: related cases need not be identical."
The two cases are related, he said, because they "contain a central event with a core of similarity."
"The central legal question in each is whether LexisNexis's employment evaluations, as structured, violate provisions of the FCRA. Whether LexisNexis or its clients are alleged to have violated the FCRA, LexisNexis's practices when collecting information, creating reports, and providing notice are at issue in the two cases," DuBois wrote.
"In short, the cases are related because the harm alleged to have been sustained by both putative classes stems from the same facts-the use of LexisNexis's employment adjudication services and whether such conduct violates the FCRA," he concluded.
Rite Aid, the country's third-largest retail drugstore chain, reportedly operated 4,623 stores and made more than $25 million in revenue in 2012 as of March. The 4,100-employee LexisNexis Risk Solutions reported nearly $1.5 billion in revenue in 2012.