Man claims HR company inaccurately labeled him as sex offender

Andrea Dearden Mar. 29, 2012, 3:15am

A Madison County man has filed a defamation claim against an HR company he says inaccurately labeled him a sex offender and cost him a new job.

Jonathan Baker filed the lawsuit against HireRight Solutions Inc., formerly known as USIS Commercial Services Inc., on March 27 in Madison County Circuit Court. Woods Basement Systems Inc. and Chris Brickenstaff are also listed as defendants.

Baker says he applied for a job with Woods Basement in Collinsville on March 8, 2011. According to the complaint, Woods Basement requested HireRight to perform a background check on Baker without asking applicant to fill out any additional forms or agreements.

On March 21, 2011, Baker says he was hired by Woods Basement and went to work for the company. Three days later Baker says his employment was terminated after a background report from HireRight allegedly showed he was a convicted sex offender who had pleaded guilty to "public sexual indecency – oral sexual contact."

Baker contends HireRight performed the background check based on his first and last name and did nothing to verify if the person in the report had the same middle name, birth date or social security number as the applicant.

Baker says the information provided by HireRight was false and, therefore, misrepresented his character and cost him his job at Woods Basement. He accuses HireRight of defamation per se, negligent misrepresentation, tortuous interference with an economic relationship, intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Baker also alleges the company violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act for failing to get his written consent to perform the background check. He is asking for an undetermined amount of money in actual and punitive damages.

Baker says Woods Basement and its employee, Chris Brickenstaff, are negligent for failing to investigate the truth of HireRight's claims before openly sharing the allegedly inaccurate criminal history information with other Woods Basement trainees. Baker accuses the company of defamation, promissory estoppel and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Baker is asking to be awarded lost wages and benefits along with more than $50,000 in damages for harm to his reputation and severe emotional distress. He seeks punitive damages from Woods Basement and Brickenstaff as well.

Attorneys Michael J. Brunton and Mary M. Steward of the Brunton Law Offices in Collinsville are representing Baker.

Madison County Circuit Court Case No. 12-L-375

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