Wednesday, June 12, 2013
The Wall Street Journal has the story of how the EEOC yesterday filed cases against two companies, BMW and Dollar General, who are accused of improperly using criminal background checks to discriminate against black applicants.
From the Wall Street Journal:
Federal regulators Tuesday accused two large employers of improperly using criminal-background checks in hiring, the latest salvo in a contentious debate over whether such screening amounts to discrimination against black applicants.
In complaints filed in federal courts in Illinois and South Carolina, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said two companies discount retailer Dollar General Corp. and a U.S. unit of German auto maker BMW generally barred potential employees based on the criminal checks, when they should have reviewed each applicant. The commission said the policies had the effect of discriminating against black applicants.
The suits underscore increasing government scrutiny of criminal and credit checks, which are widely used to screen job applicants. Some 92% of employers use criminal-background checks for some or all job openings, according to a 2010 survey by the Society of Human Resource Management.
The EEOC issued guidance to employers last year, shortly after a unit of PepsiCo Inc. agreed to pay $3.1 million and change its screening policy to settle charges of discriminating against blacks by improperly using criminal checks. In some cases, the Pepsi bottling unit screened out applicants who had been arrested but never convicted.
The guidelines don't bar the use of criminal checks, but urge employers to consider the crime, its relation to an applicant's potential job, and how much time that has passed since the conviction. The guidelines also recommend that employers review each case individually, and allow applicants to show why they should be hired despite a conviction.
Because this is an area of the law where the EEOC recently issued guidance and has had success in winning these cases against other large companies, I would suspect this is going to be a hot area of employment discrimination litigation for many years to come. Or at least until some of these employers adopt criminal background check practices that comply with EEOC guidelines.
Hat Tip: Liz Tippett