US Sues BMW, Says Criminal Checks Were Discriminating

70 black workers after background probes

By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 12, 2013 8:10 AM CDT

(Newser) – The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a lawsuit against BMW for using criminal background checks to screen out employees—a practice, it says, which put 70 black employees out of a job, the Washington Post reports. The background, as per an EEOC press release: A BMW plant in South Carolina had been staffed with workers from a contractor which only required background checks for the past seven years. When the company's contract ended, workers could re-apply to stay with BMW, but had to submit to the automaker's unlimited background check policy.

Of the plant's 645 employees, 88 were turned away, 80% of whom were black—even though the workplace is 55% black overall, CNN reports. The policy is "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," says the EEOC. In one case, a woman with 14 years' experience was let go over a 20-year-old misdemeanor conviction, the Post reports. The agency has also filed a suit against retailer Dollar General for rejecting two black applicants following background checks. One had a 6-year-old drug conviction, while the other was falsely reported to have a felony conviction, according to the EEOC.

A worker fits the BMW sign at a car in the BMW plant in Leipzig, eastern Germany.   (AP Photo/Eckehard Schulz)
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