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Target seeks to settle discrimination lawsuit

For many workers in Ohio, facing racial discrimination and other types of civil rights violations on the job can be an all too common reality even when working for large employers. For example, the major retail chain, Target, recently agreed to a $3.7 million settlement after a lawsuit that alleged that its process of criminal background checks discriminated against African American and Latino applicants. The settlement is currently pending court approval.

Under the terms of the settlement, the retailer will give priority to hiring Latino and black applicants who had previously been rejected from employment due to a background check. The lawsuit claims that these rejections often related to offenses that were years old or were unrelated to the positions to which they applied. The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund said that the background check procedures harmed many qualified people looking for a good job, noting that these types of overly broad checks can limit opportunities for black and Latino workers in a way that amounts to racial discrimination.

The lawsuit was filed as a class action complaint on behalf of all applicants who had been rejected from working at Target after May 11, 2006. The named plaintiffs in the case had 10-year-old misdemeanor convictions or drug charges. Target concluded the settlement offer shortly after the complaint was filed. The retailer said that its criminal history checks began over 10 years ago and that it continues to perform background checks. However, the check is now performed later in the process and is considered in addition to other factors.

Employer practices can violate civil rights law when they have a disproportionate, unjustified impact on a specific group of people based on race, sex or national origin. An employment lawyer may be able to help employees who have faced workplace discrimination or who have dealt with discriminatory barriers when seeking employment to pursue justice and accountability.

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