Q: Do I have any case regarding a delayed background check that left me unemployed and caused me to miss a start day?
I had a delay in a background check through a 3rd party company used by my employer. The delay caused me to become unemployed for several months while I waited for results. I was given a start date for back in February 2022 and put in notice with my current employer at the time, as I was 88% complete with the background check about a week prior to the start date. The background check took an unprecedented amount of time and was not officially completed for another 2 months (remained idle at 88%). I was told my start date would be moved to every Monday until the background check was completed so I remained active through the hiring process. It finally came back April 2022 and I reached out to the original employer who told me they don't have a start date until June 2022, leaving me unemployed for yet another 2 months. Legally are they obligated to honor the original agreement of moving the start date to every Monday until the background check completed?
In California, all employees are considered at-will unless there is a contract to the contrary. At will employment means that the employer may change the terms and conditions of your employment including the start date, terminate your employment at any time, with or without cause or prior notice provided it does not violate anti-discrimination laws.
Unless you can show that your potential employer made knowingly false representations about the terms of the employment and you detrimentally relied on these statements, you do not have recourse. Good luck.
Maya L. Serkova
Unfortunately the fact you have provided do not suggest actionable unlawful conduct by either the employer or the background check company.
You would have no standing to sue the background check company as it was the potential employer who hired it and paid for the services.
The company has the right to stop the hiring/onboarding process at any time and for any reason. It can also change the terms and conditions of employment, including your start date, at any time and for any reason or no reason at all.
You have been subjected to unfair and unfortunate circumstances. There is not always a lawsuit to address all wrongs.
Good luck to you.
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