Accenture (NYSE:ACN), one of the largest management consulting firms in the world, conducts background checks that discriminate against African Americans and Latinos, a class action lawsuit filed in New York federal court today alleges.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Roberto J. Arroyo, of Morristown, N.J., accuses Accenture of violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by rejecting or firing qualified individuals who have criminal records even where the criminal history has no bearing on the individual’s fitness or ability to perform the job.
According to the Complaint, “Such policies and practices are illegal because they adopt and perpetuate the racial disparities in the American criminal justice system … For decades, the Supreme Court and the EEOC have recognized that overly broad restrictions on hiring individuals with criminal records are discriminatory and illegal.”
The lawsuit alleges that Mr. Arroyo worked as a contract technical support employee for Accenture for nearly a year and a half. “I worked long hours at Accenture and I did my job well,” said Mr. Arroyo. In April 2007, the complaint alleges, Accenture offered him permanent employment subject only to the results of a background check. Accenture then withdrew its job offer and ter-minated Mr. Arroyo’s employment as a contract worker after a background check revealed that he was convicted a decade earlier of vehicular homicide after driving while intoxicated.
Mr. Arroyo “deeply regrets the loss of life caused by his mistake, and he has succeeded in becoming a productive member of his community ever since then,” the lawsuit states. Mr. Arroyo, who has a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, has excelled in his career as an information technology professional. He previously served with distinction in the U.S. Navy during Operation Desert Storm.
Attorneys Adam T. Klein, Samuel R. Miller, Ossai Miazad of Outten & Golden LLP, of New York, and Audrey Wiggins and Sarah Crawford, of Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, of Washington, D.C., represent Mr. Arroyo.
Samuel R. Miller said, “By all accounts, Mr. Arroyo was an excellent, well-liked worker during the 17 months he spent at Accenture as a contract employee. But rather than evaluating Mr. Arroyo on his individual merits, as a person who had made a mistake in the distant past and had moved on to build a solid career, the managers at Accenture stigmatized him as a criminal and fired him without notice. When companies act this way, they make it impossible for ex-offenders to rebuild their lives and contribute to their families and communities.”