Pepsi Settles with the EEOC for Background Screening Practices
January 11, 2012
It was just announced that Pepsi Beverages will pay $3.13 million to settle a lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) over alleged discriminatory background screening practices.
The case centered around Pepsi’s policy to not hire applicants on a permanent basis whose background checks revealed an arrest that did not lead to conviction for positions at their factory. In particular, the EEOC said that 300 black applicants were denied permanent employment due to arrests that did not lead to convictions. The policy was deemed discriminatory because there was “reasonable cause to believe that the criminal background check policy formerly used by Pepsi discriminated against African Americans in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”
Personally, I wish this case didn’t solely focus on minorities. After all, I have to believe that white applicants were treated the same way. It’s like saying that the policy would have been fine had they not attempted to hire minorities.
Using arrest records that didn’t lead to convictions is a tough policy to enforce, especially when it is a blanket policy, but it is permissible (please consult with your legal counsel for more on this). This case underscores the need for employers to take a close look at their background screening standards and to align non-hireable convictions (or arrests) with the responsibility of the job itself.