Zabriskie v. Federal National Mortgage Association, Ninth Circuit, Nos. 17-15807 & 17-16000, March 11, 2019  

Issue: Whether the Ninth Circuit should grant a rehearing to reassess the two-judge majority’s adoption of a narrow definition of a consumer reporting agency (CRA) under the Fair Credit Reporting Act 

Summary: The two-judge majority in the underlying decision found that Fannie Mae was not a consumer reporting agency (CRA) because Fannie Mae’s software provided the reports and the reports were only a means to obtaining a loan, not its purpose.

This narrow definition of a CRA will allow many background check companies to avoid liability under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FRCA) by using automation and misstating the purpose of their reports. The discovery of a criminal record severely limits an individual’s employment prospects.

The stigma of a criminal record has an especially damaging impact on people of color. Inaccuracies in criminal history reports are rampant and can harm the financial stability of workers with and without a record. A narrow definition of CRAs undermines workers’ ability to review and correct criminal history records used by their potential employers. NELP authored this brief with sign-ons by JustLeadershipUSA, Towards Justice, Legal Action Center, and Community Service Society of New York in support of plaintiffs’ petition for an en banc review of Zabriskie v. Federal National Mortgage Association. 

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