Amazon Faces Class Action Lawsuit due to Alleged Discrimination During Employment Screening

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Amazon Faces Class Action Lawsuit due to Alleged Discrimination During Employment Screening

Category : Legal

Amazon is facing a class action lawsuit from multiple former employees due to the effects of an updated background screening policy. The lawsuit alleges that Amazon terminated each of the complainants based on the results of their background checks without considering how the criminal history information affected the employees’ job responsibilities. Furthermore, the plaintiffs state that Amazon violated federal and state anti-discrimination laws as the policy had a disparate impact on Black and Latino employees.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), disparate impact is defined as an employer’s neutral policy (ex. Excluding applicants from employment based on certain criminal conduct) having a disproportionate impact on individuals protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and that the policy may violate the law if it’s not job related and consistent with business necessity. Assuming that current incarceration rates remain unchanged, about 1 in 17 White men are expected to serve time in prison during their lifetime; by contrast, this rate climbs to 1 in 6 for Hispanic men; and to 1 in 3 for African American men. Thus, a program that excludes applicants based solely on the presence of a criminal record without assessing the effects the record has on the position can open organizations to EEOC Title VII enforcement action and litigation.

The EEOC recommends that companies establish a screening process that includes an individualized assessment to minimize the risk of employing a discriminatory policy. An individualized assessment provides the applicant with the opportunity to explain the circumstances pertaining to a criminal offense and also gives the employer the information needed to assess the potential risk that the applicant may present to their organization. If the applicant does not respond to the assessment, the organization would still have met their responsibilities under the EEOC’s guidance. Working with an accredited Consumer Reporting Agency that understands the EEOC and provides helpful resources can help your organization avoid the same pitfalls other companies have experienced.

Click the links below to read more about this story as well as the EEOC and their recommendations regarding the consideration of arrest on conviction records in employment decisions!