The NAACP and the community organization group TakeAction Minnesota, accused Target Corp. of unfair hiring practices in 10 formal complaints filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The NAACP and the community group allege the retailer’s hiring practices discriminate against applicants with criminal records. In a news conference in Minneapolis, the groups accused Target of denying people with criminal records job interviews, even when the alleged crime was old, expunged or irrelevant to the prospective job. NAACP and TakeAction members filed 10 formal complaints with the EEOC and referenced an additional 150 cases documented over eight months.
EEOC spokeswoman Julie Schmid said employers cannot have blanket policies that bar applicants with criminal records from consideration. Such practices have been found to disproportionately affect African-Americans, she said. Instead, employers must review each applicant’s situation on an individual basis, consider how long ago the arrest or conviction occurred, the nature of the incident, and if it is relevant to the job.
As a result, TakeAction Minnesota and the NAACP are asking Target to adopt the EEOC’s hiring guidelines so that individual assessments of applicants with criminal records can be done in order to allow more people with records a chance to secure employment and economic stability.
Specifically, the two organizations are asking Target to take into account:
- the length of time since an offense occurred,
- the type and severity of the offense itself, the vast majority of which are non-violent misdemeanors,
- the nature of the particular job an applicant is seeking
Jeff Martin, president of the NAACP St. Paul branch, said Target is an important part of the Twin Cities community and should do its part to help reduce Minnesota’s racial unemployment gap. Since the recession, Minnesota’s African-American unemployment swelled to 13.8 percent, compared with 5.8 percent overall.
The complaints submitted are “the tip of the iceberg of a massive structural problem at Target,” Martin said. “This is an opportunity for Target to lead. We are asking Target to adopt the EEOC’s [rules].”
The complaints against Target’s hiring hit just as the retailer is dodging a controversy about wages paid to janitors who clean its stores and offices. Last week, Target’s contractor, Diversified Maintenance System, settled a $675,000 class-action lawsuit with Twin Cities janitors who were made to clean metro Target stores seven days a week without overtime pay. Over 6,000 separately contracted janitors and security guards are now threatening to strike on February 24 unless labor talks improve. The contracted workers want their employers to sit down and talk about wages and their right to form a union. The contractors provide services to Target and other area big-box retail shops.