OFCCP Settles With Reynolds Consumer Products On Blanket Exclusions Based on Criminal Background Checks

The settlement, announced on February 22, 2016, calls for, among other things, payment of $86,000 to 74 black applicants from the period between March 2007 and February 2008, as well as the promise to offer jobs to seven of the class members as they become available.  The text of the settlement may be read hereThe settlement includes back pay, interest, and lost seniority.

The OFCCP charged that blanket exclusion based on past convictions adversely impacts black applicants.  Reynolds therefore promised to “be proactive in their outreach to avoid any chilling effect” of its prior policy of blanket exclusion.  Reynolds also agrees, to use the language of the EEOC, that it would “look at the nature and seriousness of the crime or conduct; the time elapsed since the conduct occurred or any jail sentence was completed; and the nature and requirements of the job being sought.”  The OFCCP also cited Executive Order 11246 against blanket exclusions on grounds of adverse impact on racial and ethnic groups.

The moral here is that the OFCCP, the EEOC, and the President are very much on the same page with regard to criminal background checks.  Best to take the individualized approach in the EEOC Guidelines.

By Art Gutman, Ph.D., Professor, Florida Institute of Technology

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