For the past few years, a man from Green Bay, has been threatening to sue big companies who perform background checks on him during the hiring process if they don’t pay him hefty settlements. Believe it or not, his plan is actually working.
Although he’s apparently been at it for years, Cory Groshek’s strategy was recently revealed by Time Warner Cable lawyers filed a motion to dismiss a case filed against the company by Groshek. It claims that within a recent 18-month stretch, Groshek applied to 562 jobs with high-profile companies, without any intention to secure long-term employment. Instead, he merely tried to to catch companies violating the law during the hiring process, so he could threaten a class-action lawsuit against them and demand settlements.
Documents submitted by the lawyers show that Groshek has used this scare tactic to extract at least $232,000 in settlements from various businesses across the United States. The man himself has allegedly admitted to threatening over 40 companies with class-action lawsuits for technical violations of the federal law, specifically running a background check on him without properly informing him about it.
The law states that companies wanting to check a person’s consumer credit reports — a routine part of the hiring process have to make a “clear and conspicuous disclosure” of their intention to do so. Groshek figured out that a lot of companies bury this disclosure in the fine print or deep in stuffy forms, so he decided to take advantage of it. Whenever he spotted a Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) violation by a company he applied for a job at, he threatened to sue on behalf of not just himself, but all recently hired employees. Each individual could be entitled to up to $1,000, which adds up really fast in the case of big companies like Time Warner Cable. This gave him leverage to negotiate a more sizable personal settlement.
Groshek has so far threatened to use 46 companies that performed background checks on him, 20 of which agreed to pay out relatively small settlements of between $5,000 and $35,000, just to get him off their backs. In their motion, Time Warner Cable lawyers argue that Groshek doesn’t care about the company’s other employees, as evidenced by requests for settlements payable only to him. “Here, there is not just a risk that (Groshek) will try to sell out the class — he has already tried to do so,” they write.
In his deposition, Cory Groshek admitted that that he “discovered the potential to bring FCRA claims after talking to an attorney” in 2014, after which he “educated himself on the requirements of the FCRA.” He also added that he would go on sites like Career Builder and Indeed and apply for hundreds of available jobs. Whenever a company would express interest in him and asked permission to perform a background check, he would pay attention to see if they violated the FCRA’s disclosure requirements.
Photo: Document Cloud
Even if he got the job, Groshek would either fail to show up for work or quickly quit, and then make his settlement demands. “Make no mistake about it, I have all of the leverage in this situation and TWC has none,” he wrote in a 2,300-word missive to Time Warner Cable, asking for a six-figure settlement to drop a lawsuit that he estimated would otherwise cost the company $5 – $10 million. “I understand that you may be tempted to try to make this issue disappear for a token payment of, say, $500 to $2,500, but I will have you know that such offers would meet my definition of ‘lowball’ offers, and thus will be rejected immediately,” he added.
Court records show that Groshek has admitted to threatening to sue big names like Starbucks or target, and settled nearly every case without filing a class-action lawsuit. But Time Warner Cable didn’t settle, so when he went along withe the lawsuit, company lawyers could depose him and publicly disclose a series of documents, including his request for a settlement.
Although Time Warner Cable lawyers have alleged that Cory Groshek’s strategy breaks state extortion laws, and that he is a “professional plaintiff” who duplicitously tries to use employees rights as leverage to line his own pockets, a substantial number of legal precedents regarding FCRA violations have gone Groshek’s way.
And judging by the email he sent the company, asking for a settlement, Groshek has little doubt that he will win the case should it ever reach a jury. “I would prefer that we avoid what could be a multi-year trial,” Groshek wrote. “But if TWC wishes to be combative and fight a losing battle, I am more than willing to do whatever is necessary to see that justice is served in this situation.”
Source: Journal Sentinel