Target Settles Claims it Discriminated Against Blacks, Hispanics in Hiring Practices
Target Corp has agreed to review its policies for screening job applicants and pay $3.74 million to settle a lawsuit claiming its use of criminal background checks kept thousands of blacks and Hispanics from obtaining employment. The preliminary settlement filed on Thursday with the U.S. District Court in Manhattan requires a judge’s approval. It resolves claims that Target, which has performed background checks for employment in U.S. stores since 2001, “imported the racial and ethnic disparities” in U.S. criminal justice system into its hiring, in part by disqualifying job applicants for convictions unrelated to the work they sought.
Total Retail's Take: I know Target is likely agreeing to a monetary settlement in this case to make it go away, rather than an admission of guilt, but I struggle to see what the retailer did wrong here. Is using criminal background information as one of several pieces of criteria in the hiring evaluation process wrong, particularly when hiring for customer-facing positions in-store? While a job candidate's criminal record shouldn't be the sole determinant when making a hiring decision, I believe it should be factored in.
Target no longer asks for criminal histories in job applications, but still considers convictions “important” and gathers criminal background information late in the hiring process. “We have a number of measures in place to ensure we’re fair and equitable in our hiring,” while “maintaining a safe and secure working and shopping environment for team members and guests,” said Jenna Reck, a Target spokeswoman.