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BMW will pay $1.6 million to settle EEOC criminal background check suit

Published on Wednesday, September 9, 2015

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BMW will pay $1.6 million to settle EEOC criminal background check suit
BMW Manufacturing Company agreed to pay $1.6 million to settle a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawsuit that charged the company was liable for race discrimination in connection with its former criminal background checks policy, which allegedly disproportionately affected African-Americans, the agency announced Tuesday.

The 2013 lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Charlotte, alleged that when Greer-headquartered BMW switched contractors handling the company’s logistics at its production facility in 2008, it required the new contractor to perform a criminal background screen on all existing logistics employees who reapplied to continue working in their positions at BMW, the EEOC said in a statement.

BMW’s criminal conviction records guidelines excluded from employment all persons with convictions in certain categories of crime, regardless of how long ago the employee had been convicted or whether the conviction was for a misdemeanor or felony, the EEOC said.

According to the complaint, after the criminal background checks were performed, BMW learned that about 100 incumbent logistics workers at the facility, 80 of whom were black, were disqualified from employment. The EEOC lawsuit sought relief for 56 black employees who were discharged.

As part of the settlement, BMW will offer employment opportunities to the discharged workers in the suit as well as up to 90 African-American applicants whom BMW’s contractor refused to hire based on BMW’s previous conviction records guidelines, among other provisions.

BMW released a statement that read the settlement “affirms BMW’s right to use criminal background checks in hiring the workforce at the BMW plant. The use of criminal background checks is to ensure the safety and well-being of all who work at the BMW plant site.

“The BMW plant in Greer is in a United States Foreign Trade Zone under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. BMW is a member of the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) and therefore has a business necessity to require criminal background checks not only for its employees but also the employees of vendors, temporary agencies, and contractors who have access to the plant site.”

  

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