Expert Witness the cause of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Woes

The EEOC is making an effort to eliminate discriminatory hiring practices. However, their own expert witness, a workplace psychologist, is proving to be damaging to its efforts. 

On Friday, August 9, 2013, the district court of Maryland dismissed an EEOC lawsuit against Freeman Companies in which the EEOC accused the event services company of discriminating against minorities and males. In a September 2009 complaint, the EEOC alleged that Freeman reviewed the credit and criminal histories of prospective employees as part of its hiring process. The EEOC claimed that this practice had the effect of discriminating against African Americans, Hispanics, and males. To substantiate its claim, the EEOC engaged a workplace psychologist who submitted an expert report showing the disparate impact Freeman’s hiring policy had on African American, Hispanic, and male applicants.

In dismissing the complaint, the judge took issue with the expert’s report saying it was unreliable, rife with analytical errors, untimely, and therefore not admissible to demonstrate the hiring practice had a discriminatory effect. However, the court did note that “some specific uses of criminal and credit background checks may be discriminatory and violate the provision of Title VII . . . .” 

It is generally illegal in New York to discriminate against an employee based on their criminal history. Legislation is currently pending that will make it similarly illegal to discriminate against an employee based on their credit history. If you feel you have been the victim of discrimination base on an illegal background check, please contact The Harman Firm.