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Monday, July 22, 2024 | Back issues
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Class Claims California DMV Violates Privacy

OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) - California's Department of Motor Vehicles violates privacy and the state constitution by illegally retaining and reporting confidential criminal history records, six Californians claim in a class action in state court.

Five pseudonymous plaintiffs and Steve Thomasberger sued the DMV and its director Jean Shiomoto on Wednesday, accusing them of violating the Information Practices Act, due process, the vehicle code and other charges. The 50-page lawsuit in Alameda County Court includes 63 pages of exhibits.

The Doe plaintiffs sued for privacy violations, Thomasberger as a taxpayer.

They say the DMV maintains criminal history records for "upwards of one million" Californians, and violates privacy protections for certain records by retaining them after the statutory period has expired.

Those records include records of arrests that did not result in convictions, dismissed convictions, and convictions set aside.

The DMV has "no legitimate use" for those records, but it "refuses to purge many such obsolete records even upon individual request, and makes it nearly impossible for record subjects to correct inaccurate records," according to the complaint.

The DMV reports these records to employers and private background check companies for employment screening, in violation of California's Constitution and Labor Code, the complaint states.

The Does call the practices "especially pernicious," because they give employers access to confidential records that employers many not obtain legally from employment background checkers, including private companies and the California Department of Justice.

"California employers are aware that the DMV's loose record retention and reporting practices allow them access to criminal history records they would otherwise be unable to obtain," the complaint states.

"They take full advantage of this criminal record reporting loophole."

The plaintiffs say the DMV policy injures Californians who seek employment in traditional driving positions as well as applicants for positions that do not involve driving as a primary function, such as security guards and dockworkers.

They seek class certification, writ of mandate, and an injunction.

They are represented by Sarah Crowley, with the East Bay Community Law Center in Berkeley.

The DMV declined to comment.

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