EEOC Files Charges Against National Retail Chain

June 5th, 2017

On May 15, 2017, charges were filed against a national retail chain with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. The complaint alleges that the retailer violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The claim was made by the Fortune Society, which assists individuals with re-entry, including job placement after prison. The claim states that the violation occurred when a Fortune Member who is a Latino male, applied for employment with the retailer on November 3rd, 2016 and completed an application and disclosed a conviction from 2001, his education and his employment history working in retail stores. On approximately November 7th, 2016 the member who applied for employment spoke to a human resources representative with the company, and explained his previous employment experience, education and the details with his conviction and maintained that he was innocent despite accepting a plea agreement. Later that month the individual was sent a letter stating that he would not be getting the position.

The Fortune Society claims that when the retailer made its decision it was not job related and consistent with business necessity, and it was not based on an individualized assessment of the skills and ability to perform the job. The Fortune Society claims that the policy of not hiring individuals based on their criminal history has a disparate impact on Latinos, African Americans and men due to the higher rate of arrests and convictions among these populations. Disparate impact is a practice that adversely affects a protected class even though, on its face, it may appear neutral. Fortune has also filed a request that the charge be filed with the New York City Commission on Human Rights.

Clients are encouraged to review their policies on disqualification based on criminal history, and reference the EEOC Guidance and state requirements such as those in the State of New York

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