A race discrimination charge filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleges that the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation and Bellevue Hospital violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by illegally using criminal history reports in making hiring decisions, according to Outten & Golden LLP.
The EEOC claim was filed by Shanae Leath, who alleges that HHC/Bellevue discriminated against her by rescinding a job offer because she did not meet “background requirements.”
According to the charge, Ms. Leath, who earned a medical assistant certification in 2006 and successfully completed an internship at another New York hospital, fully disclosed her nine-year-old conviction when she applied for a clerical position at Bellevue in February 2008. In March 2008, the hospital interviewed Ms. Leath, conditionally offered her the position, fingerprinted and drug tested her, and provided her with an employment identification card for building entry.
Then, the charge alleges, on April 10, 2008, Ms. Leath received a letter from HHC/Bellevue rescinding the job offer indicating that she did not meet the “background requirements” of the job. HHC/Bellevue’s policy or practice of not hiring applicants with prior criminal convictions has a disparate impact on African-Americans and Hispanics, according to the charge.
Ms. Leath stated, “I was told that the doctors were impressed with my credentials and were excited to work with me. I was thrilled when they offered me the job and crushed when they took it away. Years ago, I made a mistake, but my life is in order now. It really hurts because Bellevue seemed to recognize that I would be a good worker.”
Justin M. Swartz stated, “This type of discrimination is as counterproductive as it is wrong, and it hits minority communities very hard. One in five U.S. adults has a criminal record, and a disproportionate number of them are African-Americans and Hispanics. Blanket bans on hiring applicants with prior criminal convictions not only violate federal and state law – they are also cost companies the opportunity to hire hard working, motivated people.”
Ossai Miazad stated, “We would like to see Bellevue change its unfair hiring practices. The hospital cannot demonstrate that rejecting employment applications like our client’s application is job-related and consistent with business necessity, as the law requires them to do. Countless people, like Ms. Leath, are fully qualified to be productive workers after they pay their debts to society.”
Ms. Leath is seeking back pay, front pay, lost benefits, compensatory damages, and other appropriate relief. The charge also is intended to place HHC/Bellevue on notice of class-wide allegations of discrimination.