EEOC Consent Decree Serves to Remind Employers to Reevaluate Screening Practices

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Dollar General is the latest employer to settle with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) over its use of criminal history information in the hiring process.

The consent decree memorializing the settlement requires the company to pay $6 million to aggrieved applicants and prohibits it from considering criminal history when hiring unless it engages a criminology consultant to reevaluate its practices.

The outcome sends a strong message to employers—the EEOC has no plans of backing down on its stance that background checks can be unlawful.

Criminal History Info May Have a Disparate Impact on Minorities

In 2013, the EEOC filed suit against Dollar General arguing it discriminated against African-American applicants by considering criminal conviction history during the hiring process. Specifically, the agency claimed the retailer required applicants who received a conditional offer to undergo a background check.

The company used a “matrix” identifying specific crimes and a corresponding time period that must have elapsed since the conviction. If an applicant failed the background check because she had a conviction within the time period, the conditional offer was revoked. The EEOC argued the process was discriminatory because, even though it was facially neutral, it had a disproportionately negative effect on African-American applicants as compared to white applicants.

After 6 years of litigation, the EEOC and Dollar General settled the case, without any admission of wrongdoing. On November 18, 2019, the court approved a 3-year consent decree, jointly drafted by the parties, involving both monetary payment in the amount of $6 million to be distributed to aggrieved applicants as well as certain injunctive relief.

The main thrust of the agreement is that Dollar General is prohibited from considering criminal history when making hiring decisions unless it hires a mutually agreed upon criminology consultant to evaluate the use of criminal history during its hiring process. Continue reading here…

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Source: HR Daily Advisor