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Target Agrees to Amend Criminal Background Checks of Job Applicants

It’s common for employers to screen job candidates for indications of a criminal history before offering to hire them. Many people who have been convicted of a crime are automatically disqualified for jobs, regardless of the crime they committed or how the rest of their history shows they’ve made active strides in amending their mistakes and moving on to become better citizens.

Unfortunately, people of color (primarily African Americans and Latinos) are more frequently incarcerated and charged with crimes (especially violent crimes and those relating to drugs) than their white counterparts, despite representing a significantly smaller portion of the population.

According to a recent civil rights class action lawsuit against Target Corp., the retail giant’s background check on job candidates allegedly resulted in employment discrimination against Latinos and African Americans. The class of plaintiffs included more than 41,000 Latino and African-American candidates who were denied employment at Target as a result of a criminal background screening that Target used between May 2008 and December 2016.

Target has since reached a settlement with the class of plaintiffs for $3.7 million, although it’s not clear how many of the plaintiffs will be receiving a piece of that pie.

As part of the settlement agreement, Target has also agreed to provide priority hiring rights to Latinos and African Americans who applied for jobs at Target starting May 11, 2006, but was denied based on their criminal background checks. For the plaintiffs who can’t benefit from that particular provision because they’ve retired or they have a military, medical, or family obligations, they will be eligible to receive up to $1,000 in compensation.

Target released a statement explaining that it had followed in the footsteps of many other companies when it started performing criminal background checks on its job candidates more than a decade ago. Like anyone else, it wanted to make sure its stores and offices were safe, but according to the recent class action lawsuit, some qualified candidates were allegedly denied employment because of convictions that had nothing to do with the positions for which they were applying.

The company added that it has since removed the question about a candidate’s criminal background from its employment applications all over the country. They still intend to collect criminal background information on their job applicants, but they will hold off doing so until the final stages of the hiring process. That way, they can make sure that all job candidates are considered based on their qualifications, availability, and how they interview for the position before Target starts ruling out candidates with an unsavory past.

While its perfectly understandable for Target to try to keep their properties and their customers safe, doing so at the expense of a qualified candidate’s opportunity to earn a living is unacceptable. It’s an unfortunate state of affairs in our country today that people of color are more likely to be suspected of criminal activity and are significantly more likely to be subjected to search when compared to white citizens. While that may seem like a separate issue from discrimination in the employment process, this class action lawsuit shows that there may, in fact, be some overlap.The Chicago overtime lawyers at the Chicago Overtime Law Center are investigating unpaid overtime claims against large retail chains such as Petsmart, Officemax, Staples, Smart & Final, Apple, Walgreen’s, CVS, Urban Outfitters, GAP, Abercrombie & Fitch, Limited, Forever 21, Macy’s, Target, JC Penney’s, Lowes, Burlington Coat Factory, Marshalls, TJ Max, Victoria’s Secret, Nieman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Best Buy, Home Depot, Apple, Best Buy, Sears, K Mart, J.C Penney, Walmart, Costco, PetSmart, REI, Office Depot and other retail chains for misclassifying employees as managers, erasing or altering time sheets or time records, pressuring workers not to report or record overtime, failing to pay for time spent on security checks, and otherwise failing to pay workers for overtime and other wages. If you are the victim this practice, call us at one of our offices near Evanston and Skokie at (312) 869-4095 or contact us online.