U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Company’s Use of Job Applicants’ Credit History and Criminal Charges / Convictions Discriminates Because of Race, National Origin and Sex, EEOC Charges
BALTIMORE – Freeman (also known as the Freeman Companies), a nationwide convention, exhibition and corporate events marketing company, engaged in a pattern or practice of unlawful discrimination by refusing to hire a class of black, Hispanic, and male job applicants across the United States, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today.
Since at least 2001, the EEOC said, Freeman has rejected job applicants based on their credit history and if they have had one or more of various types of criminal charges or convictions. This practice has an unlawful discriminatory impact because of race, national origin, and sex, and is neither job-related nor justified by business necessity, the EEOC charged in its lawsuit.
As a result of these practices, the company has violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, according to the lawsuit (Civil Action No. 8:09-cv-02573-RWT) filed by the EEOC’s Baltimore Field Office in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. It is a violation of Title VII to use hiring practices that have a discriminatory impact because of race, national origin, or sex and that are not job-related and justified by business necessity.
The EEOC attempted to reach a voluntary settlement before filing suit. The EEOC seeks injunctive relief in its lawsuit, as well as lost wages and benefits and offers of employment for people who were not hired because of Freeman’s use of job applicant credit history and criminal charge and conviction information.
“Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was intended to eliminate practices that serve as arbitrary barriers to employment because of a job applicant’s race, national origin, or sex,” said Acting Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence of the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office, which oversees Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, Maryland, and portions of New Jersey and Ohio. “Employers need to be mindful of this important national policy and should be careful to avoid hiring practices that have unlawful discriminatory effects on workers.”
Workplace discrimination charge filings with the federal agency nationwide rose to an unprecedented level of 95,402 during Fiscal Year 2008—a 15 percent increase from the previous fiscal year.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.