Background Check Policy Disproportionately Screens Out Minorities AND Associational Discrimination Violation under FEHA

A long running class action settled this week when the U.S. Census Bureau agreed to pay $15 million dollars and repair how it screens job applicants for census positions.  The main allegation was that the agency disproportionately screened minority applicants.  A non-monetary component of the settlement includes a change in how the agency gives notice to the African American class members when the next census takes place in 2020.  Another part of the settlement includes the requirement that the agency help the class members with their applications’ criminal history portion and improve hot its temporary workers are hired. Instead of discriminating against African American candidates in the methodology the agency uses for the job application, the agency must implement a specific and logical job-related way to show that an applicant’s criminal history is pertinent enough to discard said candidate from the census jobs.

The alleged violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 disparaged against African American and Latino job applicants who had a higher arrest and conviction rate than their white counterparts.  Accordingly, that criminal history prevented thousands from gaining work through the entry level jobs.  The unfair requirement in the application forced the applicants to provide official documentation within thirty days about their arrests and convictions.  See other instances of Title VII discrimination here.

Another recent case held that California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) requires employers to render reasonable accommodation to employees and applicants based on their association with a disabled individual.  California has a long history of prohibiting discrimination through FEHA.  However, family and medical leave issues have typically been analyzed via its state California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”) and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”).  Our Los Angeles based employment law attorneys have been following this case closely.

The underlying case that brought this issue to the forefront was when a truck driver by the name of Castro-Ramirez sued Dependable Highway Express alleging associational disability discrimination, failure to accommodate and retaliation under FEHA.  Specifically, Castro-Ramirez had a disabled son who required daily dialysis.  Castro-Ramirez was the only person in the household who was trained on how to operate the dialysis machine.  Therefore, in 2009 he requested and was accommodated with a schedule allowing him to return home in time to administer the dialysis to his son.  However, after four years of this accommodation, a new supervisor took over and, although he was informed of the situation, refused to accommodate him even though the supervisor allowed other drivers to begin their shift earlier than him.  When he could not take the new assignments, Castro-Ramirez was terminated.  This termination was in violation of the CFRA and FMLA, but the court held that it was a violation of FEHA.

If you believe that you, or another employee, suffered an employment law matter related to a discrimination in the workplace race or associational disability (or retaliation), prompt action to preserve your rights is crucial.  Contact the experienced employment law attorneys at Stephen Danz & Associates for a free consultation to discuss your circumstances and legal options.