Black and Latino workers were denied much needed post recession employment because of racist background checks.
The U.S Census Bureau paid $15 million to settle a landmark 2010 class-action lawsuit, which alleged that the agency discriminated against Black and Hispanic job applicants, the New York Daily News reports.
The suit claimed a racist criminal background check system used in 2010 by the Census Bureau to vet job seekers led to the rejection of 450,000 Black and Latino applicants looking for temporary jobs.
According to the New York Times, many of the plaintiffs were disqualified from the selection process and denied employment because they could not explain their records of old minor offenses within the stipulated 30-day deadline.
Attorneys representing the plaintiffs, who filed the suit, blame the turndowns on the Census Bureau’s flawed screening process and inaccurate and incomplete FBI arrest and convictions database, citing that many of the people, who were denied jobs could have been fully qualified for the jobs available if the system worked more effectively.
According to the class-action lawsuit by attorneys at Outten & Golden LLP, the rights of applicants of color were violated because of their race.
The attorneys claimed that the federal agency’s background check procedures “violated Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act because of their substantial adverse impact on African Americans and Latinos who were arrested at much higher rates than whites, often for the same crimes, such as minor drug possession and use.”
Most of the $15 million will be going to the improvement of the screening process ahead of the 2020 census and to pay for legal fees.
Lead attorney Adam Klein hopes the Bureau will replace “its arbitrary and racially discriminatory use of criminal records and develop a rational job-related method to determine whether an applicant has a criminal history which justifies his or her rejection from these essentially entry level jobs.”
No amount of money can pay for the damages caused by institutional racism on families and communities of color; such effects can only be fixed and made right by addressing the issue on a broad scale.
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