Apparently, even a "no decision" decision by the U.S.
Supreme Court can still establish precedent.
Relying on a
Spring 2016 SCOTUS decision, a federal magistrate judge in
California dismissed a proposed class action lawsuit by a
driver against the ride-sharing company, Lyft, Inc., which had
alleged privacy violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero ruled on Wednesday, October 5,
2016 that the driver, Michael Nokchan, lacked "standing"
– the right to sue – guaranteed under Article III of
the U.S. Constitution, because he could not demonstrate he suffered
"concrete harm" as a result of Lyft's manner of
conducting background checks on job applicants.
In so ruling, Judge Spero followed the SCOTUS decision in
May 2016 in the case of Spokeo v. Robins. In that case,
Thomas Robins filed a class action suit against Spokeo, Inc., an
online assembler of information about individuals, alleging Spokeo
published inaccurate information about Robins on its website. His
suit sought to include in the claim other individuals who also felt
Spokeo published false information about them on its website.
SCOTUS ruled by a 6-2 vote, months after the untimely death of
Justice Antonin Scalia, that Robins did not have standing to sue
Spokeo because he could not demonstrate he suffered a real or
"concrete" injury as a result of the inaccurate
information having been published.
In Nokchan v. Lyft, Inc., Nokchan alleged in his
putative class action claim, filed in June 2015, that Lyft had
committed a technical violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act by
failing to provide him a disclosure of his rights to request copies
of his credit check and background report.
But, citing Spokeo, Judge Spero ruled that Nokchan
failed to meet his obligation to show that his injury was
"concrete and real," because he did not allege he
suffered any real harm because he did not receive the required
disclosures or a summary of his rights. Nokchan actually was hired
as a driver by Lyft, and still drives for them today.
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Companies must train front-line managers to be on the lookout for signs that an employee might need a job accommodation because workers who want help when a medical issue hinders their job performance don't always clearly ask for it.
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