Daily Labor Report®

Iraqi Muslim Denied Citigroup Job Can’t See Full FBI Report

April 17, 2019, 3:07 PM

The FBI doesn’t have to turn over to an Iraqi Muslim woman the full version of a background check report Citigroup relied on in denying her employment, a federal court ruled.

Noor Aljarah sought to be hired both through an employment agency and directly by Citigroup Global Market and believed she had been approved for a job, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York said April 15.

But Citigroup ultimately said it couldn’t hire her after an FBI background check identified her as a “person of interest.” A month later, Aljarah was declared to no longer be a person of interest, the court said.

The Department of Justice is correct that the portions of Aljarah’s identity history summary it redacted are protected by the law enforcement privilege, Magistrate Judge Hugh B. Scott said. Aljarah must make do with the redacted report as she tries to prove Citigroup Global Market and related companies failed to hire her based on her national origin and religion, he said.

Citigroup can’t be ordered to share the unredacted report with Aljarah during discovery in her case because it lacks control over the full version of the document, the judge said. The bank doesn’t have a corporate affiliation with the U.S. government. It “merely used the databases of the FBI to confirm plaintiff’s record as a job applicant,” Scott said.

The law enforcement privilege protects from disclosure the techniques, procedures, and sources used by agencies such as a the FBI, the court said. Citibank was bound by the privilege even though it was invoked by the FBI, a third party, the court said.

And Aljarah doesn’t need the unredacted identity history summary to pursue her claims against Citigroup under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, even though she and the bank are both “in the dark” as to why she was initially identified as a person of interest by the FBI, the court said.

At issue in her case is how the bank construed the report, not whether its contents were true, and why the person of interest designation caused it not to hire her, the court said.

Aljarah also challenges as biased the bank’s call for her to be fingerprinted and subject to a background check in the first place, Scott said.

She doesn’t need the full background report to develop those allegations, either, the judge said.

Aljarah represents herself. Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP represents Citigroup.

The case is Aljarah v. Citigroup Glob. Mkt. Inc., 2019 BL 135519, W.D.N.Y., No. 16-cv-00812, 4/16/19.

To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Dorrian in Washington at pdorrian@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bloomberglaw.com; C. Reilly Larson at rlarson@bloomberglaw.com

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