Target Settles Class Action Lawsuit over Hiring Practices

Recently retail giant Target settled a class-action lawsuit over alleged discrimination in their hiring practices. The $3.74M settlement is meant to address exclusionary hiring practices that had “a disparate impact on African Americans and Latinos”.

According to the plaintiffs, Target asked broad and outdated questions about the criminal histories of applicants; even if the offenses were not related to the job they were applying for.

Over the past few years, Target and other retailers have modified their hiring practices to become more in-line with best practices. One example is the removal of any criminal history questions from the job application. They wait until the final stages of the interview process to inquire about any criminal history.

However, according to the lawsuit, when Target would get to asking for criminal history they would not take into account whether the offenses were relevant to the position being sought after or how long ago the offense occurred.

Whenever any employer is evaluating a candidate and reviewing any criminal history that an individual may have, it is important to consider the “Green Factors”. The “Green Factors” stem from the case Green v. Missouri Pacific Railroad. In that case the court found “a complete bar on employment based on any criminal activity, other than a traffic violation, is unlawful under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”

The “Green Factors” look at:

  • The nature and gravity of the offense or conduct
  • The time that has passed since the offense or conduct and/or completion of sentence
  • The nature of the job held or sought

According the lawsuit, Target was not considering these factors when making hiring decisions. As part of the settlement, Target will review its hiring policies and contribute to organizations that help people with criminal records find employment.

This lawsuit should be a reminder to employers that there are many things to consider when evaluating a candidate’s criminal history. Understanding all relevant laws and regulations and taking into account “Green Factors” is an important place to start.


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