Retailer Reaches Agreement in Lawsuit Involving Criminal Background Checks

Criminal Background Check

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

An agreement has been reached in the case of The Fortune Society v. Macy’s brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Fair Chance Act (FCA) of the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) that sought to address criminal background checks by Macy’s in New York City, according to a press release from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF).

“We are gratified that Macy’s will undertake efforts to hire an expert to review its criminal history screening policies and ensure that they provide economic opportunities for qualified applicants and employees. Criminal history screening policies must consider factors such as the nature of the conviction, its recency, and any evidence of mitigation and rehabilitation,” said NAACP LDF President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill.

The lawsuit claimed “Macy’s – one of the largest American retailers – rejects job applicants, revokes job offers, and terminates the employment of people with criminal histories, even when the applicants’ and employees’ convictions are old, minor, and/or unrelated to the positions at issue.” These policies and practices “are unlawful under Title VII and the NYCHRL” because they result in unjustified racial disparities in employment opportunities.

In 2015, New York City passed the FCA affirming and strengthening the City’s commitment to ensuring that individuals with criminal history records are evaluated fairly during the hiring process. Black and Latino people, who make up over 90 percent of The Fortune Society’s participants, are typically disproportionately impacted by criminal background checks in hiring because of racial discrimination in the criminal justice system.

The Fortune Society is a nonprofit community-based organization that supports successful community reentry for people with prior criminal justice involvement. The lawsuit was filed on June 26, 2019, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on behalf of Fortune and its participants and Plaintiff Michael Clark. The agreement affirms Fortune’s commitment to helping individuals with criminal justice involvement.

The NAACP LDF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that is America’s premier legal organization fighting for racial justice. Through litigation, advocacy, and public education, LDF seeks structural changes to expand democracy, eliminate disparities, and achieve racial justice. LDF also defends the gains and protections won over the past 80 years of civil rights struggle and works to improve the quality and diversity of judicial and executive appointments.

Criminal background checks are essential for proper due diligence. Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global background check provider – offers comprehensive and compliant criminal background checks that give employers primary source verified information that complies with federal and state laws and can legally be used in hiring decisions. To learn more about services from ESR, visit www.esrcheck.com.

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