EEOC Reaches Agreement with Retailer Over Criminal Background Checks

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On September 24, 2018, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reached an agreement with a large furniture retailer over allegations of racial discrimination tied to the employer’s criminal background check policy.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

As outlined in the press release, the employer will make several changes to its hiring and screening policies:
  • Remove blanket exclusions tied to criminal convictions by providing individualized assessments;
  • Remove the criminal history question from the employment application;
  • Postpone criminal history inquiries until later in the hiring process;
  • Provide training to human resources staff (and other essential personnel) regarding it revised policies which includes mandatory implicit bias training (both initially and an annual refresher).

The EEOC’s press release also mentions it obtained “financial relief” for the victim that led to the investigation although the sum is not disclosed.

Although the makeup of the EEOC has shifted as a result of the last presidential election, the agency’s focus remains consistent especially as it relates to analyzing and investigating employers’ criminal background check policies. Although the EEOC has suffered a few setbacks in the courtroom, the agency has obtained numerous settlements with employers on this topic. Employers should continue to review their use of criminal background information in light of the EEOC’s 2012 guidance on the use of arrest and criminal records in employment decisions.

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