The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed lawsuits against two employers alleging they violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by implementing and utilizing a criminal background check policy that resulted in employees being fired or screened out for employment. A press release about the lawsuits – the first enforcement action against employers under the revised EEOC Guidance for using criminal records – is available at

“Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination against job applicants and employees on account of their race,” EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien stated in the press release.  “Since issuing its first written policy guidance in the 1980s regarding the use of arrest and conviction records in employment decisions, the EEOC has advised employers that under certain circumstances, their use of that information to deny employment opportunities could be at odds with Title VII.”

According to the press release, the EEOC lawsuit against a U.S. unit of BMW Manufacturing alleges that a BMW facility in South Carolina had a criminal conviction policy that “disproportionately screened out African Americans from jobs” and was “not job related and consistent with business necessity.” The policy was “a blanket exclusion without any individualized assessment of the nature and gravity of the crimes, the ages of the convictions, or the nature of the claimants’ respective positions,” the EEOC lawsuit alleges.

The claimants in the lawsuit against BMW were employees of a company providing logistic services to BMW at the South Carolina facility. When that company ended its contract with BMW, those employees had to re-apply with a new contractor to retain their jobs.  BMW directed the new contractor to perform new criminal background checks on those employees. Several employees were found to have criminal convictions in violation of BMW’s policy and subsequently were terminated and denied rehire, according to the EEOC.

That EEOC lawsuit filed in Chicago, Illinois against Dolgencorp, doing business as Dollar General, was based on discrimination charges filed by two rejected black applicants. The nationwide lawsuit claims that Dollar General – the largest small-box discount retailer in the United States with 10,000 stores in 40 states – conditioned all of its job offers on criminal background checks which resulted in a disparate impact against blacks. Ninety percent of all Dollar General employees are store clerks.

According to the EEOC suit, one applicant who disclosed a six-year-old conviction for possession of a controlled substance was given a conditional job offer that was allegedly revoked when Dollar General used her type of conviction as a disqualification factor for 10 years. The other applicant was allegedly fired by Dollar General even though the conviction records check report about her was wrong because she did not have the felony conviction attributed to her and she advised the company of the mistake.

These two lawsuits filed by the EEOC – the agency enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination – show the EEOC is starting to enforce its updated ‘Enforcement Guidance on the Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964’ issued on April 25, 2012. The updated EEOC enforcement guidance regarding employer use of arrest and conviction records is available at

Now more than ever employers need to be aware of EEOC Guidance on how to properly use criminal records. Attorney Lester Rosen, Founder and CEO of background check firm Employment Screening Resources® (ESR), has written a new whitepaper titled ‘Practical Steps Employers Can Take to Comply with New EEOC Criminal Record Guidance’ to help employers understand criminal background checks. The complimentary whitepaper is available to employers by emailing [email protected].

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – ‘The Background Check Authority®’ – is a nationwide screening provider accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®). For information about ESR, visit or call toll free 888.999.4474. For information about ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by Attorney Lester Rosen – which contains an entire chapter devoted to the new EEOC Guidance – visit


About Employment Screening Resources® (ESR):

Founded by safe hiring expert Attorney Les Rosen in 1997, Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – ‘The Background Check Authority®’– provides accurate and actionable information that empowers employers to make informed hiring decisions for the benefit of their organizations, employees, and the public. CEO Rosen literally wrote the book on background checks with “The Safe Hiring Manual” and ESR is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), a distinction held by a small percent of screening firms. Employers choosing ESR know they have selected an agency meeting the highest industry standards. To learn more about ESR, visit or call toll free 888.999.4474.

About ESR News:

The Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) News blog – ESR News – provides employment screening information for employers, recruiters, and jobseekers on a variety of topics including credit reports, criminal records, data privacy, discrimination, E-Verify, jobs reports, legal updates, negligent hiring, workplace violence, and use of search engines and social network sites for background checks. For more information about ESR News or to send comments or questions, please email ESR News Editor Thomas Ahearn at [email protected]. To subscribe to the ESR News Blog Feed, visit To subscribe to the complimentary ESRcheck Report monthly newsletter, please visit


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