From [HERE] Target Corp. has agreed to pay $3.7 million to settle a lawsuit over concerns that the way it uses criminal background checks as part of the hiring process has disproportionately hurt black and Latino applicants.
“Target’s background check policy was out of step with best practices and harmful to many qualified applicants who deserved a fair shot at a good job,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which worked on the case. “Criminal background information can be a legitimate tool for screening job applicants, but only when appropriately linked to relevant questions such as how long ago the offense occurred and whether it was a nonviolent or misdemeanor offense.”
According to the lawsuit, Target’s policies mandated automatic rejection of applicants for broad categories of misdemeanors and felonies such as violence, theft and controlled substances convictions within seven years of applying. If an application required further review, it was forwarded to Target’s human resources division, which used its discretion to make a final determination “rather than apply any objective or validated measures,” the complaint said.
Such a screening process imported “the racial and ethnic disparities that exist in the criminal justice system into the employment process, thereby multiplying the negative impact on African-American and Latino job applicants,” the lawsuit said, noting that those groups are arrested and incarcerated at rates much higher than whites.
The plaintiffs in the case included Carnella Times, a 47-year-old black woman who applied for an overnight stocker position at a Target store in Connecticut in 2006. She was disqualified because of two misdemeanor convictions from 10 years earlier. The following year, she filed a discrimination charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which issued her a right to sue in 2015 after years of investigation.
Another plaintiff was Erving Smith, a 40-year-old black man who applied for a stocker position at a store in Pittsburgh in 2014. He was denied the job because of a drug-related felony conviction from 2004. [MORE]