April 5 (UPI) — Target agreed to pay a $3.7 million settlement on Thursday in a class action lawsuit against the company for discriminating against black and Hispanic job applicants by using an “overly broad” background check process.
The lawsuit was brought forth by job applicants who were discriminated against by Target. As part of the settlement, the company will institute a hiring process for those plaintiffs to offer them entry-level jobs.
Members of the class action lawsuit who are unable to accept a position with Target due to already being employed, retired or having a disability, will be eligible cash rewards of no more than $1,000, totaling up to $1.2 million. Two of the named plaintiffs are eligible for up to $20,000 and attorneys will receive $1.9 million, according to the settlement.
“Target’s background check policy was out of step with best practices and harmful to many qualified applicants who deserved a fair shot at a good job,” Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, said in a statement. “Criminal background information can be a legitimate tool for screening job applicants, but only when appropriately linked to relevant questions such as how long ago the offense occurred and whether it was a non-violent or misdemeanor offense.”
According to the lawsuit, Target’s criminal background checks covered convictions that were unrelated to the job or occurred long before the applicant applied for the job. This process resulted in “thousands of African-American and Latino job applicants” being disproportionately disqualified.
Target also was accused of systematically eliminating job applicants who the company believed “falsified” their criminal histories in their applications “without probing the nature of any discrepancy between the application and the result of the criminal history search.”
“Overly broad background screenings unfairly limit opportunities for Black and Latino applicants due to widespread discrimination at every stage in the criminal justice system,” Ifill said.
In addition to the cash settlement, Target, which did not admit any wrongdoing as part of the settlement, will review and revise its current background check policy so that so that only criminal records that may pose a risk to the company or customers will be a basis for disqualification.
The company will also donate $600,000 to not-for-profit organizations that provide re-entry support to people recently released from incarceration.