Census Bureau to pay $15 million to settle background check lawsuit

The U.S. Census Bureau agreed to pay the fee to settle a class action involving an estimated 450,000 African Americans and Latinos who may have been passed over for jobs due to the bureau’s background check practices.

The lawsuit, filed in 2010, alleged that the system the bureau used to screen individuals for jobs during the 2010 census cycle discriminated disproportionately against African American and Latino applicants. 850,000 applicants, more than half of whom were African American or Latino, were denied temporary, entry-level jobs based off of criminal records that turned up during their background checks.

The Census Bureau established a requirement for applicants whose criminal histories were flagged by the FBI to provide paperwork explaining their arrest records within 30 days – a task which proved difficult (and sometimes impossible) for the affected individuals.

The suit claims that the 30-day requirement constituted a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, stating that the requirement was unfair to minority groups that have higher arrest and conviction rates.

A bulk of the settlement will go towards improving the screening process ahead of the 2020 census and to pay for legal fees.

Source: Law360, 4/19/2016

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