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Could Your Company’s Background Check Policy Get You Sued?

Smart businesses implement background check policies to protect themselves from fraud, theft, and other liabilities that are not easily foreseen. Almost always, it works like a charm. However, if a background check policy is implemented incorrectly, it can leave your company open to legal liabilities and litigation—even if you’re one of the largest, richest employers in the world.

Case in point: Six former Amazon delivery drivers are suing the company in a Massachusetts Superior Court, saying their firings amount to racial discrimination by the tech giant. The drivers say they lost their jobs in 2016 because of old, minor offenses that Amazon had previously been willing to overlook. They claim a change in Amazon’s background check policy disproportionately affected minority workers.

In a statement, Amazon said, “We have a longstanding practice of not commenting on pending litigation. That said, safety and customer trust are our top priorities, which is why we have always required delivery service providers to conduct comprehensive background checks for their employee drivers. The background check process is focused on job-related criminal and motor vehicle convictions and does not consider race, gender, ethnicity, religion, or other protected characteristics.”

The drivers filed complaints with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination last year.

Oren Sellstrom, an attorney for the drivers, said in an interview that background checks can have built-in biases, even if they are ostensibly race-blind.

“It’s essentially importing the unfair racial disparities in the criminal justice system into the employment process,” he said.

The drivers hope a judge will grant their suit class-action status.

Anytime you want to make a change in your background check policy, it can have unintended consequences that can leave your business vulnerable to potential lawsuits. Before you make a change, contact the experts at KRESS for a background check consultation. We assist clients every day with the details necessary for a fully compliant background check policy. We can help you, too. Contact us today at 888.636.3693 to ensure that your current or next background check policy will never lead to a discrimination lawsuit.

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