According to a report from CNNMoney, BMW has been hit with a lawsuit from the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after revised criminal background check policies resulted in the dismissal of 88 contractors, 70 of whom (that's about 80 percent) were black. A total of 645 contractors were required to submit to background checks at BMW's facility in Spartanburg, South Carolina after BMW switched contract companies at its plant.

Though the 88 persons who were not rehired by the new contractor all had criminal records, that may not necessarily be a legal way to screen applicants, as the EEOC counters: "BMW's policy has no time limit with regard to convictions. The policy is a blanket exclusion without any individualized assessment of the nature and gravity of the crimes, the ages of the convictions, or the nature of the claimants' respective positions."

BMW's actions were in violation of the Civic Rights Act of 1964, according to the EEOC, because they utilized "a criminal conviction policy that disproportionately screened out African-Americans." A recent bulletin offering guidance from the EEOC on the Civil Rights Act can be found here, but the EEOC's stance on the issue has been the same for years: "Since issuing its first written policy guidance in the 1980s regarding the use of arrest and conviction records in employment decisions, the EEOC has advised employers that under certain circumstances, their use of that information to deny employment opportunities could be at odds with Title VII."

BMW argues that background checks are legal, a fact that the EEOC concedes, and it "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." The automaker adds, "The BMW plant in South Carolina employs thousands of people and providing a safe work environment is one of the Company's highest priorities."

Sounds like the company and the EEOC are in for a long legal battle...


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 103 Comments
      matin G
      • 1 Year Ago
      It sucks that the employment world is becoming increasingly contractor based. I long for the days where you interviewed at a company and was hired by the said company. Now more and more companies simply hire a contractor to supply them with labor. Its an unnecessary middleman that takes a percentage of your check away every month and much of your rights. I started at Bank Of America 14 years ago as a teller and have moved up since. But today our bank hires contract workers for everything from tellers to cleaners to IT to security to you name it. Its good for them because they treat it as a supplier, just like any other supplier such as stationary or office materials. And if you dont like the employee, you tell the contractor to do your dirty work for you. And if you do like the employee, tough, you still don't hire them full-on because your model is based on the whole contracting system.
        GasMan
        • 1 Year Ago
        @matin G
        I own a company and all my workers are contract employees. The regulatory environment involving employees, even in a right-to-work state, are such that it is just too risky to hire people because one day you might have to fire them. Or the government will require you to provide them more and more benefits so it is just not worth it.
          m_2012
          • 1 Year Ago
          @GasMan
          Sadly, everyone is going that way and it drives the costs up having that middle man take all the risks. The only ones that lose out is the employee - less pay, less benefits, less security. Contract houses fire people just for being on the job long enough, they can hire new, cheap labor every 6 months or so. I know of a contract house that hires people, then fires them on the 89th day so they are ineligible for benefits and unemployment. Sad, sad, sad.
      George Krpan
      • 1 Year Ago
      So, what are those people going to do if they can't work? They're not in jail so evidently, they have already paid for their crimes.
      ThinkAboutIt
      • 1 Year Ago
      Should not BMW have check for convictions before hiring. If these individuals, (whatever race) were doing their jobs to BMW standards before this seemingly after thought of a background check, what difference does a prior conviction make. It does seem a little odd to do a check on your employees after they are hired and working for some time.
      Jim R
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'm probably going to get voted down for saying this--but maybe it's not BMW's system that's the problem here.
      karlhungus
      • 1 Year Ago
      I don't think BMW should focus on hiring more criminals, I think the black community should focus on committing less crime.
        icemilkcoffee
        • 1 Year Ago
        @karlhungus
        Or maybe, just maybe, the police in the South should stop arresting blacks at a much higher rate than whites, for the same offenses.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @icemilkcoffee
          [blocked]
          FloppyRunner
          • 1 Year Ago
          @icemilkcoffee
          Sounds like a separate issue to me. If it's a true problem in the South (and it may very well be), perhaps you should dedicate yourself to the cause and push for change.
          scraejtp
          • 1 Year Ago
          @icemilkcoffee
          That doesn't seem to have anything to do with BMW.
          m_2012
          • 1 Year Ago
          @icemilkcoffee
          How is that BMW's problem?
      mustsvt
      • 1 Year Ago
      How dare BMW not want convicts working for them as contractors... SMH...
      Tina Dang
      • 1 Year Ago
      My boyfriend is black and even after reading this, he still drives his BMW and my BMW.... BMW can hire and fire whoever they want. It's their business and they can do no wrong.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Tina Dang
        [blocked]
        dudeNumber2
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Tina Dang
        It's unfortunate that your boyfriend doesn't know much about past or current history. New York is being sued right now for disproportionately targeting African Americans to just randomly stop and frisk them without probable cause. It is a proven fact that African Americans get stopped more often (labeled "Driving While Black"), and if we are brought up on charges, our sentences are longer than other racial groups. I am African American and have never been in trouble with the law, but, I can't even count anymore the number of times I was stopped by the cops in my car and several times just walking! There was never any reason for it. They just did it because they could! And no, I didn't dress like a gang member or antyhing. I was actually in the boy scouts through a part of high school. Also, if you don't want people to resort to crime, they have to be able to have a job. Even bankruptcies are off your record after 7 years. How long should a person who served their time be punished for the past?
      Basil Exposition
      • 1 Year Ago
      While I don\'t think there is anything racially descriminatory here, I think it\'s a little harsh to prohibit anyone with a criminal history from working in the production plant. Of course BMW can do whatever they want, but if all employers took this route, who would hire those who made some mistakes and are trying to get back on the straight path? With no chance of employment, these folks would have no choice but to return to a life of crime, which is exactly the opposite of what we all want.
        Robt
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Basil Exposition
        I think there are two issues here: 1) What was the nature of the offence(es) and when did they occur? An eighteen year old behaving like an idiot shouldn't have to suffer for the rest of his / her life, providing the offence was minor, although introducing discretion into thye equation creates other problems for the hiring company. 2) The EEOC is a political agency with a political agenda and I wouldn't trust them any more than other government agencies.
          434-2-804
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Robt
          and they are probably all hired under at-will conditions; which allows BMW to fire/release them, as well as their ability to quit, at any time for any reason
      frostillicus80
      • 1 Year Ago
      Ok, so the vast majority of workers at the plant with criminal records happened to be black... So what? It\'s BMW\'s right to enact such a policy. It\'s their plant. They can\'t help the resulting coincidences. I don\'t see it as being racially motivated at all. Seems like the EEOC is grasping at straws...
      MrMonkaroo
      • 1 Year Ago
      Sad thing is even former criminals need to have jobs too. I'd rather have them working and earning a living than have them destitute with the possibility of committing more crime. To some who are commenting, if every company did this where do you think these people end up...on the government dime.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @MrMonkaroo
        [blocked]
          dudeNumber2
          • 1 Year Ago
          You don't trust them to build your car, but you trust them handling your food. Nice logic there!?!?
      karlhungus
      • 1 Year Ago
      So if you measure the population, and a particular group comes out looking unfavorably, then that test is illegitimate or it's discrimination? No third option?
        manure
        • 1 Year Ago
        @karlhungus
        That isn't it. Point was you should not use _irrelevant_ tests that are overly correlated with race, such as: whether you were arrested for pot possession at age 18. Which is partially related to the income of your parents, the neighborhood you grew up in and the racism of cops.
          manure
          • 1 Year Ago
          @manure
          JFA - i am white and grew up in a very wealthy neighborhood. Do you think the police would ever arrest me for drinking or smoking pot? I would need a gun in both hands before they would ever question me about anything. Criminal records are partly about race, not character. When BMW bring irrelevant race proxies into employment, that is the same as race discrimination. Then, the next step is the employer on his knees begging for mercy and forgiveness. Which will happen shortly.
          jfa1177
          • 1 Year Ago
          @manure
          Everyone has choices and you have to deal with the consequences of your actions whether it be now or later. You may not choose your lot in life but you can choose how to conduct yourself. Take responsibility for your life and STOP USING THE VICTIM CARD.
          JayhawkOne
          • 1 Year Ago
          @manure
          That's so not true Manure. Usually the cops in wealthy neighborhoods are very bored and dying to arrest the standard spoiled punk kid for alcohol/drugs.
      carney373
      • 1 Year Ago
      The entire "disparate impact" standard needs to be thrown out. Right now, there's a presumption of invidious racially discriminatory intent if, for instance, a police department has an entrance exam that a higher percentage of black applicants flunk. It's absurd. Some issues are judgement calls, but the bottom line is, if there is any even remotely reasonable rationale for a given policy it should be allowed to stand, and the burden of proof of racial discrimination should be on the accuser, and the proof needs to show INTENT to discriminate on the basis of RACE.
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