BMW to pay $1.6M, offer jobs to settle federal bias lawsuit

September 13 23:57 2015

BMW Manufacturing Co. said Tuesday it agreed to pay $1.6 million and offer jobs to dozens of African-American applicants to resolve a federal lawsuit and charges based on the company’s previous guidelines governing the use of criminal background checks at its plant in Greer. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2013 sued BMW in U.S. District Court in South Carolina, alleging the company’s criminal background check guidelines used to screen applicants for access to its Greer manufacturing facility had a disparate impact on black candidates and wasn’t job related and “consistent with business necessity.”

The EEOC complaint alleged BMW’s criminal conviction background check policy constituted an unlawful employment practice that violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. BMW denied the allegations. Company officials said Tuesday that BMW doesn’t discriminate by race in its hiring “as evidenced by its large and highly diverse workforce.”

When it was filed in federal court, the EEOC complaint sought back pay and other relief for 69 blacks, six of whom filed charges with the EEOC, according to agency officials and court records. The remaining 63 were identified as class members, EEOC officials said. In the settlement agreement, BMW said it will pay $1.6 million and offer employment opportunities through a contracted logistics labor provider to 56 of the lawsuit claimants and up to 90 other African-American applicants identified by the EEOC.

All applicants have to meet employment requirements set by the logistics labor provider, BMW said. The settlement affirms BMW’s right to use criminal background checks in hiring the workforce at the BMW plant in South Carolina, company officials said in a statement. The company has revised its policy and the use of criminal background checks is “to ensure the safety and well-being of all who work at the BMW plant site,” the officials said.