WASHINGTON -- The federal government has sued BMW Manufacturing Co., alleging discriminatory use of criminal background checks in hiring, Bloomberg reported.
The company used those checks in a manner that was biased against black workers and job applicants, according to a complaint filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last week in Spartanburg, S.C.
BMW Manufacturing, a unit of BMW AG, used the checks to deny re-employment to as many as 69 blacks working for a logistical services company that helped staff its Spartanburg plant when they tried to transfer in 2008 to another logistics firm that did contract work for BMW, the complaint said.
"Claimants were denied access to BMW's facility without any individualized assessment of the nature and gravity of their criminal offenses, the ages of the convictions or the nature of their respective positions," the commission said.
A woman with 14 years with BMW was let go after a misdemeanor conviction surfaced that was more than 20 years old and carried a $137 fine, according to the EEOC lawsuit, The
Washington Post reported.
BMW denied the allegations and said it complied with all laws, the Post reported.
The EEOC last year issued a bulletin advising employers that use of a criminal history check to make employment decisions may violate the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Of the employees who were denied access to the plant after the background checks, 80 percent were black, the EEOC said.
The EEOC said it seeks a court order barring BMW from continuing to use the same practice or any policy that has a disparate impact on blacks without examining each worker's circumstances. The complaint also requests monetary damages for the affected workers.