Outten & Golden LLP: Discrimination Charge Filed Against DHL in Background Check Dispute

PRNewswire—Outten & Golden LLP
March 30, 2017

Charge: Criminal History Policy Has Disparate Impact on African-Americans

A former temporary employee at a DHL warehouse near Chicago alleges that the company ignores the criminal histories of less expensive temporary workers but runs criminal history checks on prospective permanent hires in violation of federal and state law, his lawyers at Outten & Golden LLP said today.

Walter Pickett filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) office in Chicago today, his lawyers said. He is represented by attorneys Ossai Miazad and Christopher McNerney of Outten & Golden.

Mr. Pickett, who was hired for a temporary warehouse position in February 2016 by Snider-Blake, a staffing agency for DHL, worked successfully for several months at a DHL Supply Chain warehouse in University Park, Ill. Before he was hired for the temporary position, Mr. Pickett disclosed his criminal history.

According to the charge, a DHL supervisor told Mr. Pickett that his criminal history was not relevant because he was going to be working as a temporary employee. The supervisor, the charge states, then informed Mr. Pickett that if he sought a permanent position as a direct employee, and was rejected because of criminal history, it was DHL’s policy that he would be fired from the temporary position as well.

For more than eight months, Mr. Pickett successfully worked alongside permanent DHL employees who performed the same job duties as him. In November 2016, he applied to change his employment status from temporary to permanent employee. He applied for the same position he was already working and underwent a background check.

Mr. Pickett said, “I sought this change because DHL employees were paid more money and had benefits not available to me as a temporary worker.”

Then, in a letter dated December 8, 2016, Mr. Pickett was informed by DHL that it was denying his employment based on the information they had received from his background check, the charge states.

Ossai Miazad, a partner in Outten & Golden’s New York office stated, “Mr. Pickett asks the EEOC to investigate DHL’s practices because he believes they likely have a disparate impact on African-Americans and could violate Title VII. An employer cannot affirmatively demonstrate that its rejection of applicants is both job-related and consistent with business necessity when it allegedly allows temporary workers to perform the same job duties regardless of criminal history.”

Christopher McNerney, an associate in Outten & Golden’s New York office, added that DHL did not ask for evidence of Mr. Pickett’s rehabilitation. “Had it asked,” he said, “DHL would have learned that Mr. Pickett had earned a GED and multiple certificates, and that he is a father of two young children, and deeply involved in their lives, including volunteering at their school.”

Mr. Pickett also volunteers at a local non-profit in the Roseland neighborhood of Chicago, where he speaks about how to find gainful employment (including the challenges associated with criminal records). He recently spoke to students at the University of Illinois-Chicago about the cycle of poverty and crime, and the challenges of incarceration and becoming re-acclimated to a free society.

Mr. Pickett’s charge alleges that DHL violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (as amended), and other laws (including Illinois discrimination laws) by refusing to hire Mr. Pickett and a putative class of applicants on account of their race, color, and/or sex. Mr. Pickett is African-American.

The charge requests that the EEOC investigate the claims made in this charge on a class wide basis and against DHL. The charge is intended to place DHL on notice of class-wide allegations of race, color, and sex discrimination.

Contact: Ossai Miazad and Christopher M. McNerney, Outten & Golden LLP, 212.245.1000.