Tony Taylor was not anticipating becoming the center of a class action lawsuit when he attempted to rent an apartment through Airbnb in 2020. But when a standard background check by a third-party provider turned up a violent felony on Taylor’s record, the short-term rental company informed him that it had permanently banned him from using their services.
Taylor was perplexed. He’d been through countless background and credit checks before. And he thought the crime in question was well behind him: In 2014, Taylor—who spent years working in the security and personal protection field—carried his Glock handgun into Minneapolis City Hall. Unbeknownst to Taylor, he was bringing a firearm into a building with a courthouse in it. And, as such, he was accidentally committing a felony under Minnesota law, even though he says he never removed his licensed weapon from its locked holster.
Minneapolis police arrested Taylor and charged him with “dangerous weapon possession in a courthouse.” His wife, Sarah, was also arrested during the incident.
Rather than take on the costs associated with a criminal trial, Taylor decided to plead guilty. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail. As part of the plea, his crime would be reduced to a misdemeanor if he completed three years of probation.
Six years later, Taylor assumed the consequences of his run-in with the criminal legal system had been laid to rest. He had completed his probation and maintained good legal standing since the arrest.
However, Inflection Risk Solutions, a private company that provides background checks for employers and services like Airbnb, had erroneously reported that Taylor was a violent criminal. After seeing errors on his background check, Taylor requested a report for his wife, who was convicted of the same charge, to ensure any mistakes could be corrected. Her records contained the same error, and Inflection Risk had even duplicated her charges, listing her as having two violent felonies.
“At this point, I’m pissed,” Taylor said in an interview with The Appeal. “How dare you call me a violent felon. The reason why I was in security was to keep people safe, not to hurt people.”
Neither Inflection Risk nor Airbnb responded to a request for comment.
As the Taylors fought to correct the record, they would soon discover that they were far from the only ones whom private background check companies like Inflection Risk had harmed.
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