Census Bureau Agrees to Pay $15 Million to Settle Lawsuit for Discrimination in Background Checks

 GavelBackgroundCheckLawsuits

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

The United States Census Bureau has agreed to pay $15 million to settle a lawsuit claiming that the criminal background checks performed when hiring workers for the 2010 census racially discriminated against African American and Hispanic job applicants with arrest records, according to a report from Reuters on the Census Discrimination Lawsuit website.

Reuters reports that $5 million of the settlement will help notify class members of the lawsuit of upcoming jobs or fix errors in their criminal records. The Census Bureau is also required to hire “industrial organizational” psychologists to design new criteria for criminal background checks for the 2020 census to limit the impact on African American and Hispanic job applicants.

The settlement agreement ends a lawsuit filed in April of 2010 that claimed job applicants for the 2010 Census with an arrest record for any offense in their lives faced an arbitrary barrier to employment since the Census Bureau required these job applicants to produce “official court documentation” of the disposition of their arrests within 30 days to remain eligible for work.

The Census Discrimination Lawsuit website states the requirement from the Census Bureau for “official court documentation” caused 93 percent of the job applicants with an arrest record of almost any arrest – approximately 700,000 people – to be excluded from being hired for Census jobs. As a result, this requirement operated as a “no arrest or conviction history allowed” policy.

The website also states the Census Bureau background checks excluded people “with old and minor convictions for non-criminal offenses, misdemeanors, and other crimes that do not involve violence or dishonesty, which are irrelevant according to Census’ own policy for work in the field or at a desk job.” More information about the case is available at http://www.censusdiscriminationlawsuit.com/.

The Settlement Agreement and Release for the case of Gonzalez et al v. Pritzker, filed on April 19, 2016, in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 10-03105, is available on the Census Discrimination Lawsuit website at http://www.censusdiscriminationlawsuit.com/sites/default/files/documents/census-settlement-agreement.pdf.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) offers a complimentary whitepaper entitled “Ten Critical Steps for Ex-Offenders to Get Back into the Workforce”  to help job applicants with criminal records re-enter society through gainful employment that is available at http://www.esrcheck.com/Whitepapers/Ten-Steps-for-Ex-Offenders-to-Get-Back-in-Workforce/.

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