The United States’ largest private employer faces a proposed nationwide class action lawsuit based on its screening policy. A complaint filed on July 16, 2021 alleges that Walmart “denies employment to many qualified applicants because of unrelated and/or stale criminal history” It also alleges the company “fails to account for evidence of rehabilitation or mitigating circumstances” related to criminal records.
One Experience Highlights the Experience of Many
The complaint against Walmart outlines the experience of named plaintiff Jacqueline Ramos. It alleges that Ramos is “a Black and Latinx woman who had a previous criminal conviction at the time she applied for employment at Walmart that was unrelated to the employment” she applied for. The complaint claims that Ramos was qualified to work for Walmart, despite her conviction history, having completed a six-month internship with a Walmart subsidiary doing the same work she would have performed for Walmart.
Ramos states that she received an offer of employment from Walmart, but that “her job offer was… rescinded by Walmart because of her criminal history.” According to the complaint, Ramos provided “strong evidence of her rehabilitation and mitigating circumstances”, but Walmart “failed to account for, or even consider” the evidence that was submitted.
Complaint Highlights Racial Disparities in the Justice System
The complaint makes the allegation that “[a]s a result of its overbroad policy, Walmart denied employment to Plaintiff and disproportionately denies employment to countless other Black and Latinx applicants.”
It states that “Walmart’s criminal history policy must be understood in the context of the reality that individuals who are Black or Latinx are significantly over arrested, convicted, and incarcerated in the United States.”
The filing alleges “Walmart’s criminal history screening policy and practice of denying opportunities to individuals with criminal convictions… constitutes unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, color, and/or national origin”, in violation of:
1. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq.
2. New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“NJLAD”), N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 et seq.
It further alleges, in clarification of its discrimination claims, that Walmart’s criminal history policy has a disparate impact on Black and Latinx applicants and is not job-related or consistent with business necessity.
The class action complaint proposes two separate classes of individuals. The first is a “Nationwide Class” of all “Black and Latinx individuals nationwide who, during the relevant statute of limitations period, were denied employment at Walmart based in whole or in part on their criminal history.” The second is a “New Jersey Class” of all “Black and Latinx individuals in New Jersey who, during the relevant statute of limitations period, were denied employment at Walmart based in whole or in part on their criminal history.”
The allegations against Walmart remain allegations at this stage in litigation – no wrongdoing has been established at this point. Verified Credentials will attempt to provide you with updates to this case as they become available.
Like the recent cases against Macy’s and New York Life Insurance Company, the claims against Walmart serve as a reminder that any employer that uses background checks for employment purposes should take care to ensure that their background screening policies comply with anti-discrimination laws.
If you have further questions about background screening compliance, you may wish to speak with trusted legal counsel.