EEOC Discrimination Charge Filed Against Department Store Chain Over Criminal Background Check Policies and Practices

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Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On May 15, 2017, employment law firm Outten & Golden LLP filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charge on behalf of The Fortune Society against Macy’s, Inc. claiming “the retailer’s criminal background check policies and practices used to screen job applicants results in discrimination in violation of federal and local laws,” according to a press release from Outten & Golden LLP.

The Fortune Society’s charge claims that Macy’s violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other laws by terminating employees and rejecting otherwise qualified job applicants and employees because of their criminal histories, which bear no relationship to their ability to perform the jobs sought. More information about the lawsuit is available at: www.macyscriminalhistorydiscrimination.com.

“When employers use criminal history to make hiring decisions, they must comply with the law and ensure that the rights of job applicants are protected,” Ossai Miazad, a partner in Outten & Golden’s New York office, stated in the press release. The Fortune Society is represented by attorneys Miazad, Cheryl-Lyn Bentley, and Christopher McNerney of Outten & Golden LLP.

The charge requests that the EEOC investigate The Fortune Society’s claims against Macy’s on a class wide basis and is intended to place the retailer on notice of class-wide allegations of race, color, national origin, and sex discrimination. The Fortune Society claims Macy’s has rejected and/or terminated individuals provided services by them because of their criminal conviction history.

The Fortune Society is a nonprofit community-based organization with a mission to support the successful community reentry of individuals involved with the criminal justice system. Macy’s, Inc. owns and operates more than 800 stores throughout the United States, Guam, and Puerto Rico under the names of Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Bloomingdale’s Outlet, Macy’s Backstage, and Bluemercury.

On April 25, 2012, the EEOC – the agency enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination – issued “Enforcement Guidance on the Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964” that changed how employers perform background checks. The EEOC Guidance is at www.eeoc.gov/laws/guidance/arrest_conviction.cfm.

In addition to EEOC Guidance, employers must also be aware of “Ban the Box” laws that remove the criminal history question from application and delay such queries until later in the hiring process to give ex-offenders have a fair chance at employment. Currently, more than 150 cities and counties and 26 states have Ban the Box laws, according to the National Employment Law Project (NELP).

As reported by ESR News in January 2017, the EEOC released detailed breakdowns of the Enforcement and Litigation Statistics for the 91,503 charges of workplace discrimination the agency received in fiscal year 2016, which was the second year in a row that the number of charges filed with EEOC increased. The EEOC Enforcement and Litigation Statistics are at www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/statistics/enforcement/.

ESR Whitepaper on EEOC Criminal Record Guidance

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) offers employers a whitepaper written by ESR founder and CEO Attorney Lester Rosen entitled “Practical Steps Employers Can Take to Comply with the EEOC Criminal Record Guidance” to help them avoid any potential  discrimination charges. The complimentary whitepaper is available at www.esrcheck.com/Whitepapers/EEOC-Criminal-Record-Guidance/.

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