EEOC Reviews Complaints Against Target Corp.

February 26th, 2013

In a recent post, we discussed some of the challenges that those with a criminal record may face in the job market. Today’s story provides context for that struggle with a real life example.

Recently, the NAACP and TakeAction Minnesota brought allegations of unfair hiring practices against Target Corp. In ten formal complaints filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the organizations allege that Target’s hiring policies unlawfully discriminate against applicants with criminal records.

Although a Target spokeswoman confirmed that Target requests a criminal background check from applicants, she clarified that Target does not automatically disqualify an applicant for having a criminal record. Rather, the check is used to help create a safe working environment among employees and customers.

Civil rights advocates assert that blanket prohibitions against applicants with criminal records may have a disproportionate impact upon African-American candidates. Such disparate treatment may violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as the Minnesota Human Rights Act.

The employment protections provided by applicable civil rights laws usually require employers to instead review criminal records of job applicants individually, determining whether an applicant’s criminal record is relevant to the job. An employer may also consider factors such as whether an arrest resulted in a conviction, the nature of the criminal offense, and if the arrest or conviction occurred recently or many years ago.

In this case, the EEOC complaints allege that Target denied job interviews to applicants with criminal records without any consideration of the above factors, even if the alleged crime had been expunged from an applicant’s record.

If you believe you have been treated unfairly on the basis of a protected characteristic, an experienced employment attorney can review your claim and determine whether federal and state employment laws may offer a course of legal action.

Source: Star Tribune, “Target Corp. faces complaints about hiring practices,” Dee DePass, Feb. 20, 2013.

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