Federal law prohibits racial discrimination in the workplace. A black employee passed over for a promotion in favor of a less-qualified white person, for example, might be the victim of workplace racial discrimination.
But some people of color are discriminated against before they are hired. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has gone after companies whose system of performing background checks is discriminatory against minority applicants.
In 2013, Pepsi was ordered to pay $3.13 million as well as offer jobs and job training after charges of racial discrimination were filed in the EEOC’s Minneapolis office. The payout was divided among 300 African Americans who had applied for jobs at the soft drink company and had been passed over for jobs due to a background check system that disproportionately excluded blacks from permanent employment, according to a statement on the EEOC’s website.
The EEOC had found that Pepsi’s background check policy denied employment to applicants who had been arrested or convicted of certain minor offenses, and was discriminatory. The company violated Title VII of the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964, the EEOC found. The EEOC has stood by its believe that such background check policies can because it can limit the employment opportunities of applicants or workers based on their race or ethnicity, especially when such information is not relevant for the position.
“When employers contemplate instituting a background check policy, the EEOC recommends that they take into consideration the nature and gravity of the offense, the time that has passed since the conviction and/or completion of the sentence, and the nature of the job sought in order to be sure that the exclusion is important for the particular position, Julie Schmid, acting director of the Minneapolis EEOC office, said in the statement.
Pepsi has since adopted a new criminal background check policy and has started offering employment to the people who had earlier been denied jobs based on their arrest history. The company also started conducting Title VII training for managers and human resources staff.
“We hope that employers with unnecessarily broad criminal background check policies take note of this agreement and reassess their policies to ensure compliance with Title VII,” Schmid said.
If you feel you are being discriminated against, it is important to discuss your concerns with an experienced Fresno discrimination attorney as soon as possible.
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