A general complaint filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against Freeman, a company providing trade show solutions, has been thrown out by a Maryland district court. The EEOC alleged that Freeman’s use of credit history and criminal background checks in their hiring process had an unlawful disparate impact against blacks and men.
The court found that Freeman’s screening policies and practices were job specific, considered both objective and subjective criteria and were not a simple one-step process and ultimately determined that the EEOC failed to identify any particular policies causing disparate impact. The opinion asserted that “Under Title VII, it is not enough for the plaintiff to show that ‘in general’ the collective results of a hiring process cause disparate impact. Statistical analysis must isolate and identify the discrete element in the hiring process that produces the discriminatory outcome.”
The finding in EEOC v. Freeman, No. RWT 09cv2753 (D. Md. 2013) could significantly impact the EEOC’s current stance on the use of credit and criminal records in the hiring process and the many employers that have been and are being scrutinzing for Title VII violations. We will continue to watch this issue closely and see how other courts respond to this opinion.