BMW, Dollar General hit with discrimination suits

The federal government says their policies on running criminal background checks on new hires violate the Civil Rights Act.

By Bruce Kennedy Jun 12, 2013 3:18PM

Jail © CorbisThe federal government has filed lawsuits against two major companies for alleged discriminatory hiring practices against people who've been convicted of a crime.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced its lawsuit against a BMW (BAMXY) manufacturing facility in South Carolina. It also filed a separate lawsuit against Dollar General (DG), which the EEOC described as "the largest small-box discount retailer in the United States."

The commission says both companies violated the 1964 federal Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race and national origin, because the BMW and Dollar General practices have a disproportionate impact on African Americans.

Under federal law, employers may use an individual's criminal history in making employment decisions and that, in some circumstances, "there may be reasons for an employer not to rely on the conviction record alone when making an employment decision."

In an Enforcement Guidance memo issued last year, the EEOC warned some of those decisions may also violate the Civil Rights Act. The guidance called on employers to allow employees to explain any criminal record and asked that such inquiries "be limited to convictions for which exclusion would be job related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity."

In the BMW case, the EEOC said the company's policies regarding criminal background checks are "a blanket exclusion without any individualized assessment of the nature and gravity of the crimes, the ages of the convictions, or the nature of the claimants' respective positions."

The Dollar General case involves two job applicants. One had previously worked at another retailer in a similar position, but her job offer was allegedly revoked because of a drug possession conviction six years earlier. Dollar General fired the other applicant even though she advised the store manager in question that the felony conviction attributed to her on her background check was a mistake.

The EEOC told The Associated Press it attempted to resolve both cases through settlement before filing the lawsuits.

"Overcoming barriers to employment is one of our strategic enforcement priorities," EEOC spokeswoman Justine Lisser told AP. "We hope that these lawsuits will further educate the public and the employer community on the appropriate use of conviction records."

A BMW spokeswoman told AP the company "believes that it has complied with the letter and spirit of the law and will defend itself against the EEOC's allegations of race discrimination.''

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Jun 12, 2013 4:28PM
So these companies don't want to hire criminals.... and that's a bad thing?
Jun 12, 2013 4:09PM
This is just great.  Now the federal bureuacrats are telling us we have to accept criminals in the workplace or else.  If it is true that blacks commit more crime, then those stats will also be reflected in the hiring rates.  We hire based in skills integrity honesty and fit within the organization.  The EEOC is not even legal currently given the ruling f the Supremes.  Get them the hell out of our lives.
Jun 12, 2013 5:10PM
Well, BMW designs and manufactures an excellent car. They have been doing it forever........unlike Detroit. I can only come to one conclusion, their doing something right.
Jun 12, 2013 4:10PM

A disproportionate impact on African-Americans?  vs whom?  African-Canadians?


If you're referring to companies in the US, you don't need to mention nationality. 


Jun 13, 2013 11:17AM
Why not just let them work for the Gov'ment...they're all criminals...they'll feel right at home...
Jun 12, 2013 5:42PM

This discrimination suit will open up a flurry of copycat suits if a judge rules in favor of it.


A white supremicist, new black panther member, or former mexican drug cartel runner with long lists of felonies could then march in and apply for all these jobs.  If they get turned down, they can blame it on discrimination and use this lawsuit as the precedent in court.

Jun 13, 2013 11:13AM
As long as Dollar General has one cashier to run the cash register, do stock, and do price checks, they are going to have high turnover rates, anyway.  No big loss there.
Jun 13, 2013 10:42PM

Well if this is the case, I would recommend that the EEOC go after 7-eleven also.  As a former manager for 7-eleven I can tell you first hand that they also are violating the law, refusing to hire and for firing employees in stores they take over for convictions that took place 25 years prior to their employment.  How long must a person be punished for their behavior??

Jul 12, 2013 8:33AM
Ok for all of you silly folks out there, my job requires me to hire applicants and the company I work for which is one of the largest retail box stores in the country dose not allow me to hire someone who has committed or was convicted of a crime even if it was 20 years ago.  What the case is about is applicants who committed or was convicted of a crime more than 6 years ago and were denied employment. This country prides it's self on the idea that do your time for the crime and all is forgiven. But this is not the case. I majored in criminal justice and military science in college and what I have learned is that saying I didn't do it while being handcuffed is resisting arrest. Which is a crime, so I cannot hire that person under company policy.
Jun 13, 2013 11:10PM

So everyone who has screwed up might as well make it his life long occupation to be a criminal cause he will never get a job any where else and the correctional system might as well save their money, cause learning a lesson or remorse don’t count.  Oh even better lets lock all criminals up for life, one verdict, one sentence, or lets just shoot them, whats the point in keeping them around.    

Stop making usage and possession of low level drugs a felony and then maybe the would not be in the predicament. Good luck on charges they both have the right to exclude drug users for any number of reasons especially were safety is involved such as on an assembly line. Both have deep pockets another waste of taxpayer dollars
Jun 12, 2013 7:38PM
Wake up America! There are now 100,000,000 american citizens with some type of arrest record in our country and the list is growing every day. Criminal records are created for everything, from talking back to a teacher, arguing with a cop, riding a bike to fast in a bike lane, having your picture taken by a red light camera and fighting the charge in court, being late with child support, not being able to pay a bill where a credit collection company gets a judgement and then has you jailed for contempt when you are out of a job and can't pay it. Not everyone arrested robs banks and kills people. Being beligerent and arguing with the wrong person can make you totally unemployable in our society today and we all pay for it. It's that old adage. what goes around, comes around and it is.
Jun 12, 2013 7:10PM
Young people with a marijuana possession charge find themselves virtually unemployable.  I think it is more to do with their insurance carriers than the company.  Some insurance companies will use hiring felons as a reason to jack insurance premiums unreasonably high. If the insurance companies were made to toe the line, more of these young people could find jobs.
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