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BMW Faces Discrimination Lawsuit in SC Stemming from Job Reapplication Drug Test Process

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BMW is facing a lawsuit from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging that one of its facilities in “Right-to-Work” South Carolina adopted a criminal background check policy that disproportionately affected African-American workers.

In 2008, BMW switched contractors at the facility and all employees were forced to reapply for their old jobs.  All applicants were then forced to undergo another background check as a condition of their employment.  As a result, 88 employees lost their jobs.  Now, the EEOC is claiming that those background checks were not done under the guidelines of the law.  Via CNN:

Those with criminal convictions were denied rehire “without any individualized assessment of the nature and gravity of the crimes,” the age of their convictions, and despite some having years of experience, the EEOC said.

The result was that out of 645 experienced employees, 88 were denied rehire, including 70 blacks, the commission claims. That means 80% of those turned away were black, despite blacks constituting only 55% of employees.

BMW violated the Civil Rights Act “by utilizing a criminal conviction policy that disproportionately screened out African-Americans,” EEOC spokeswoman Christine Nazer said. The policy, she added “is not job-related and consistent with business necessity.”

Legally, workers can be terminated due to prior offenses of the law, however the EEOC states that employers must consider “the nature of the crime, the time elapsed, and the nature of the job.”

In a statement, the EEOC said they are looking to file another order to prevent future discrimination at the company:

With its newly issued enforcement guidance, the EEOC affirmed its longstanding position that criminal records screening may have a disparate impact on African-Americans and Latinos, and that arrests alone are not predictive of criminal conduct,” said Reuben Daniels, director of the EEOC Charlotte District Office, in a release issued Tuesday. “Employers must carefully evaluate the age and nature of convictions when using such information to make employment decisions.”

BMW claims they are within their legal rights to terminate part of their workforce due to prior legal offenses. The company has said they will fight the suit.


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