Criminal Background Check

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On August 9, 2019, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – the agency enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination – announced it had reached an agreement with international home furnishings retailer Pier 1 Imports through its conciliation process to resolve a background check race discrimination charge for $20,000, according to a press release from the EEOC.

The EEOC charged that a black job applicant was denied a position as an assistant manager at a Pier 1 Imports store in Montclair, California after a criminal background check was conducted on him. The EEOC investigation determined that the company’s use of criminal records limited the employment opportunity of the job applicant based on his race in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Without admitting liability and to avoid litigation, Pier 1 Imports will enter into a two-year conciliation agreement with the EEOC and the alleged victim. In addition to the $20,000 the company will pay the job applicant and injunctive relief, Pier 1 Imports will reaffirm its commitment to Title VII by revising its background check process and removing the criminal conviction question from its employment application.

“Employers should review their criminal background check policies to ensure they are inclusive for all qualified candidates, regardless of race,” EEOC Los Angeles District Office Director Rosa Viramontes stated in the press release. “We commend Pier 1 Imports for resolving this matter without litigation and for putting in place measures to prevent discrimination during the hiring and promotion process.”

The EEOC enforces Title VII, which makes it illegal to discriminate against a person on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. On April 25, 2012, the EEOC approved its guidance “Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964” as part of its efforts to eliminate unlawful discrimination in screening, hiring, or retention.

An employer is liable for violating Title VII if its background check policy or practice disproportionately screens out a Title VII-protected group and the employer fails to demonstrate that the policy or practice is job related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity. Unlawful disparate impact occurs when a policy or practice causes a disproportionate impact based on a Title VII-protected group.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global background check firm – offers a white paper on the “Practical Steps Employers Can Take to Comply with the EEOC Criminal Record Guidance” that includes examples and suggestions on how to remain in compliance with EEOC Guidance while performing criminal record background checks. To learn more about ESR, visit www.esrcheck.com.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

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