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Macy's Accused Of Bias With Background Checks At EEOC

May 17, 2017 / Media Coverage / Law360 — Kat Greene

Macy’s Inc. was hit with a charge at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by a group that advocates for ex-inmates, which alleges the retailer's criminal background check policies are discriminatory, the group’s lawyers at Outten & Golden LLP said Wednesday.

The Fortune Society, which works with ex-offenders to assist them in transitioning from incarceration to the outside world, filed an EEOC charge Monday against the retailer, saying the criminal background check policies and practices used to screen job applicants lead to discrimination, according to a statement.

The company is violating the Civil Rights Act and other laws when it fires employees and rejects otherwise qualified job applications because of their criminal histories, the group said.

"When employers use criminal history to make hiring decisions, they must comply with the law and ensure that the rights of job applicants are protected,” Ossai Miazad of Outten & Golden said in the statement.

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The charge, according to Fortune Society, asks the EEOC to investigate its claims against Macy’s on a classwide basis and is intended to place the retailer on notice of classwide discrimination allegations.

The EEOC has authority to investigate whether it’s reasonable to believe that discrimination occurred, according to the agency.

Macy’s a year ago reached a deal with the U.S. Justice Department to settle allegations it discriminated against non-U.S. citizens who were authorized to work at a Glendale, California, retail location.

That deal ended allegations that the retail giant violated the Immigration and Nationality Act by forcing lawful permanent residents to provide copies of their unexpired green cards so they could begin to work, according to the agreement at the time.

The INA allows permanent residents to choose from a list of acceptable documents they can present to employers for verification of their legal status and does not obligate the use of a green card as part of the process, according to the deal.

Macy’s West Stores Inc., the unit involved in those allegations, paid an $8,700 civil penalty to the government as part of the agreement. Before agreeing to the deal, the retailer in November 2015 voluntarily reimbursed the unnamed charging party $524 for the hours the person would have otherwise worked and began to train employees in the proper hiring procedures, according to the agreement.

Fortune is represented by Ossai Miazad, Cheryl-Lyn Bentley, and Christopher McNerney of Outten & Golden LLP.

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