EEOC files race discrimination lawsuit against BMW - FOX Carolina 21

EEOC files race discrimination lawsuit against BMW

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A federal agency filed a lawsuit against BMW Manufacturing, alleging the company discriminated against African-Americans in the hiring and firing process because of criminal background checks.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), BMW began working with a new logistics company in 2008 and when current employees re-applied to continue working for the new logistics provider, BMW discovered that 88 employees had conviction records, which violated the company's policy.

BMW's conviction policy at the time excluded from employment anyone with convictions of certain categories of crimes, regardless of the age of the conviction or making a distinction between felony and misdemeanor convictions, the EEOC said.

The 88 logistics employees were eventually fired and denied a job, 70 of whom were black and disproportionately disqualified from a job, the EEOC said.

The EEOC said BMW violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act with this hiring practice and is seeking lost wages and benefits, as well as reinstatement or front pay for the 69 claimants. The agency said it's also seeking an order barring future discrimination and other injunctive relief.

"With its newly issued enforcement guidance, the EEOC affirmed its longstanding position that criminal records screening may have a disparate impact on African-Americans and Latinos, and that arrests alone are not predictive of criminal conduct," said Reuben Daniels, director of the EEOC Charlotte District Office, in a release issued Tuesday. "Employers must carefully evaluate the age and nature of convictions when using such information to make employment decisions."

The suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, Spartanburg Division.

BMW spokesperson Steve Wilson said they could not comment on the specifics of the complaint but released the following statement regarding BMW's operations:

"BMW believes that it has complied with the letter and spirit of the law and will defend itself against the EEOC's allegations of race discrimination. BMW is a global company with employees in more than 140 countries around the world. We have a strong culture of non-discrimination as evidenced by the company's highly diverse workforce. The BMW plant in South Carolina employs thousands of people, and providing a safe work environment is one of the Company's highest priorities."

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