Bank of America Corp.‘s new employee background check policy disproportionately affects black job seekers because it imports racial disparities in the criminal justice system into the bank’s hiring process, a proposed class lawsuit in Delaware federal court charges.
Willie Gilder says he was a victim of the policy’s disparate consequences for black workers when his offer of employment as a collections and recovery specialist was withdrawn based on mistaken information Bank of America received regarding Gilder’s prior arrest for alleged cocaine dealing.
The bank believed he was convicted on that charge, Gilder says. But the records Bank of America received from the third-party vendor that performed his background check, and information Gilder later supplied to the bank, indicate that the charge was dismissed, he says.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission “strongly cautions employers against using arrest records in employment decisions under almost all circumstances,” the lawsuit says. The agency also presumes that hiring exclusions based on past criminal convictions have a disparate impact on job applicants based on race and national origin, the suit says.
The suit was filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware on behalf of Gilder and all other black job seekers who similarly received offers of employment or were hired by Bank of America but who the had their job offers of pulled or who were fired because of their race under Bank of America’s background screening policy and practices.
Causes of Action: Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act; tortious interference with prospective business opportunities.
Relief: Certify case as class action; order declaring background check policy and practices violate Title VII; classwide damages; lost wages, salary, employment benefits, back pay, front pay, and liquidated and other damages for Gilder; attorneys’ fees and costs.
Class size: Unknown.
Response: Bank of America didn’t immediately respond Tuesday to Bloomberg Law’s request for comment.
Attorneys: Allen & Associates represents Gilder and the proposed class.
The case is Gilder v. Bank of Am., D. Del., No. 1:20-cv-00522, class complaint 4/20/20.