Target agrees to change pre-employment screening process

Last month, the NAACP reached a settlement with Target Corporation to resolve allegations that its criminal background check policy discriminated against African-American and Latino applicants.

The civil rights group called the background check portion of Target’s pre-employment screening process “overly broad and outdated”. Previously, it has been suggested that the retailer discriminates against black and Hispanic applicants based on criminal records with offenses too minor or outdated to affect job performance.

“Target’s background check policy was out of step with best practices and harmful to many qualified applicants who deserved a fair shot at a good job,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. “Criminal background information can be a legitimate tool for screening job applicants, but only when appropriately linked to relevant questions such as how long ago the offense occurred and whether it was a nonviolent or misdemeanor offense.”

Target will pay more than $3.7 million in the settlement and agreed to change its hiring process.

Among the people represented in the lawsuit was Erving Smith, who received conditional employment offers from Target after interviews. The offers were later revoked when the company’s screening process found that he had two decade-old misdemeanor convictions and a decade-old drug-related felony.

“I faced many challenges because of a conviction in my early twenties,” Smith said in a statement. “But with perseverance, a great support system, and the opportunity to obtain a living wage, I have become a successful tax-paying member of society. Everyone deserves a second chance and I am happy that Target has agreed to offer qualified individuals jobs.”

The settlement comes less than three years after the Target retailer paid $2.8 million to settle similar claims of hiring discrimination with the EEOC. The commission found that three employment assessments used by Target disproportionately screened out applicants for salaried positions based on race and sex.

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