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Local man's job search hindered by background check error

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AMARILLO – A local man is now part of a federal class action lawsuit after finding out false information was reported to potential employers on his background checks.

For many jobs, getting to the point where a background check is required is a positive sign. But not for Jeremy Smith.

"I've had a hard time for two years finding a job and that's because this company is not telling the right information about me," Smith said.

Three different employers told Smith that a felony conviction was flagged on his record.

Smith was never convicted of a felony, but he was charged for one seven years ago. That charge was dropped to a misdemeanor. A crime he did his time for, and says he regrets.

"There's a thin line on what you can get with a misdemeanor and a felony," Smith said.

He received a letter in the mail this week detailing a class action lawsuit out of a federal court in Virginia.

The letter said that he, and over 41,000 others across the nation, were found to be qualified to reason damages from Verifications Inc, a company that performs background checks for employers.

NewsChannel 10 spoke with one of the lawyers from the firm that filed the case, Susan Rotkis.

Rotkis said it is likely the company came across Smith's arrest records for the felony charge, and did not look into whether he was convicted.

Verification Inc. preliminarily settled the case for $3.75 million.

District Attorney James Farren said it's almost always a good idea to become a plaintiff in a class-action suit if you qualify.

"A plaintiff who chooses to join a class action really has nothing to lose," Farren said. "You don't have to pay anything out of pocket."

Farren said to always verify that the law firm filing suit is legitimate, which you can do at the local Bar Association.

If a class action claim asks you to pay anything to be involved, it is likely a scam.

Farren also said that even if a suit is legitimate; don't expect to get a huge sum of cash.

"Each plaintiff may not get that much money because if you divide it up 41,000 times, the slice of pie can get pretty thin," Farren said.

Smith, however, isn't expecting a large amount of cash, just a little justice.

"Money can't make up for," Smith said. "I just think they need to get it right so it doesn't happen to somebody else."

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