The EEOC has filed lawsuits against the BMW’s Spartanburg, SC manufacturing plant as well as the Dollar General in Goodlettsville, TN. The claim is that both companies are violating the Civil Rights Act due to their policies of not hiring those convicted of crimes, and that is costing African-Americans jobs.
Several employees who had worked at BMW’s plant for years as employees of a logistics services company lost their jobs as a result of BMW’s policy. Their employer, UTi Integrated Logistics, only reviewed criminal convictions for the previous seven years. But when UTi ended its contract with BMW, its employees at the facility had to re-apply for their jobs with a new contractor. BMW ordered the new contractor to follow its criminal background policy, which has no time limit as far as criminal convictions. Several employees failed this test, and were denied jobs as a result.
EEOC’s lawsuit against Dollar General, which has 10,000 stores in 40 states, grew out of a discrimination lawsuit filed by two rejected black applicants. Dollar General also requires criminal background checks as a condition of employment, according to the EEOC. One of the rejected applicants had a 6-year-old drug conviction, but had previously worked at another discount retailer for for four years. The other rejected applicant was fired by Dollar General due to an inaccurate criminal background report.
EEOC Chair Jacqueline Berrien said the agency has advised employers since the 1980s that “under certain circumstances” their use of arrest and conviction records to deny employment opportunities “could be at odds” with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.