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Dallas firm beats EEOC in background check case

by on
in Employment Background Check,Human Resources

Dallas-based trade show and convention management firm Freeman has beaten back an EEOC lawsuit that challenged the firm’s use of criminal background checks in hiring. The EEOC sued in 2009, claiming Free­­man’s criminal background checks had a disparate impact on blacks, Hispanics and men.

The company maintained throughout the litigation that its policies were prudent, given the work it does. It insisted the checks were “job related and of business necessity” as the law requires.

A federal judge in Mary­­land, where the lawsuit was filed, agreed and dismissed the EEOC’s lawsuit.

In his opinion, the judge wrote “by bringing this action of this nature, the EEOC has placed many employers in the ‘Hobson’s choice’ of ignoring criminal history and credit background, thus exposing themselves to potential liability for criminal and fraudulent acts committed by em­­ployees, on the one hand, or incurring the wrath of the EEOC for having utilized information deemed fundamental by most employers.”

He went on to say that “something more, far more than what is relied upon by the EEOC in this case must be utilized to justify a disparate impact claim based upon criminal history and credit checks. To require less would be to condemn the use of common sense, and this is simply not what the discrimination laws of this country require.”

Note: This case illustrates the importance of having a sound basis for requiring criminal background checks for the jobs that legitimately require them. Employers lose in court when they cannot show the reason for the criminal background request.

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