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Legs & Regs: Court dismisses EEOC lawsuit

August 19 2013

The U.S. District Court of Maryland dismissed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Title VII lawsuit suit over alleged discriminatory background checks based largely on flaws in the EEOC’s expert report.

In 2009, the EEOC filed the nationwide hiring discrimination lawsuit against Freeman, which produces trade shows and other events. The lawsuit alleged the company’s background check program was discriminatory toward African Americans, Hispanics and male applicants.

While the opinion acknowledges the legitimate business reasons for conducting criminal background checks and highlights significant challenges the EEOC faces when prosecuting such suits, the court did not reach the question of whether the company could affirmatively demonstrate “business necessity,” according to the Legs & Regs Advisor.

The court’s opinion will also not prevent the EEOC from continuing to challenge employer use of background checks, and the court explicitly recognized that some specific uses of criminal and credit background checks may be discriminatory and violate the provisions of Title VII. The EEOC is expected to appeal the decision. The agency has already appealed another credit check case in Ohio after the court similarly ruled the EEOC failed to show any disparate impact.

To read the full August issue of the Legs and Regs Advisor, click here.


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