$15M settlement in Census Bureau background check lawsuit
<![CDATA[The U.S. Commerce Department has agreed to pay $15 million to settle a class-action suit, brought following the hiring process for the 2010 Census Bureau. Back in 2010, the Census Bureau sought to fill more than 1 million temporary positions. The hiring process required a criminal background check, where biographical information of applicants was run through the FBI database. If an arrest record displayed, the Census sent a letter to the applicant asking them to provide “official court documentation on any and all arrest(s) and/or conviction(s)” within 30 days. Those applicants who disputed that they had an arrest record were advised to submit a set of fingerprints. The plaintiffs sued in 2010, alleging that those procedures violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 . According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), employers may violate Title VII if their policies have a disproportionate adverse impact based on race, national origin or other protected categories, and if employers cannot demonstrate the business necessity of such policies. In fact, in 2012, the EEOC provided guidance on the use of criminal history in hiring calls for a process of individualized assessment, where rejected candidates can make their case to demonstrate facts about the offense or about their lives that shows they should be given a second chance. In addition to paying $15 million, the Census Bureau is also required to hire industrial-organizational psychologists to design new criteria for criminal background checks for the 2020 census to limit disparate impact on job applicants. The decision could have consequences for an estimated 450,000 African Americans and Latinos who may have been passed over for jobs because of the Census Bureau’s background-check recruiting practices. ]]>
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