Improperly Conducted Background Checks Divide Massachusetts Town

Consumer rights as spelled out in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) mandate the proper handling of sensitive consumer data as it is used to determine eligibility for employment, housing, credit, insurance, etc. Employers, insurers, landlords, and others are subject to legal action in the event that consumer rights are violated at any point in the background check process. And as two Townsend state officials have recently learned, no one is above the law.

Former Police Chief Robert Eaton and former Police Sergeant Randy Girard, as well as the town of Townsend, Massachusetts, are being sued by a man and woman who allege that their constitutional rights were violated when they background information was illegally accessed and publically disseminated. The allegations claim that the breach of privacy, which took place after the woman’s appointment as assistant to Town Administrator James Kreidler, was motivated by “an attempt to have Ms. Merrill’s employment with the Town terminated and to embarrass members of the Town’s Administration for hiring her.” Her appointment reportedly “upset” Girard.

But the state Department of Criminal Justice Information Services, in a letter to the police chief by the town commissioner, found that the check on Ms. Merrill “was initiated for now official criminal justice purpose,” and preceded yet another unwarranted check on the woman’s boyfriend.

The Fallout of Improperly Conducted Background Checks

In this case both Eaton and Girard have lost their positions and face a trial by jury for the allegations of invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress as the results of the improperly conducted background check were made public across social media and resulted in harassment of the plaintiffs. Additionally, the town of Townsend is divided by the proceedings.

Protect Yourself by Conducting Proper Background Checks

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