Target to pay $3.7M in racial bias lawsuit

Target has agreed to pay a $3.7 million settlement in a lawsuit claiming racial bias in background checks, according to new court papers.

The retail giant’s settlement was filed Thursday in Manhattan Federal Court, alongside a class action lawsuit filed by former job applicants over pre-employment screenings.

Carnella Times and Erving Smith claimed in their complaint that they received conditional employment offers from Target – which were later rescinded after background checks turned up decades-old convictions.

Times and Smith, who are both black, and The Fortune Society, a Queens-based nonprofit that helps former incarcerees get back on their feet, maintained “a disproportionate number of otherwise qualified African-American and Latino applicants were automatically disqualified from employment opportunities.”

Target’s hiring policies “have a significant adverse impact upon African Americans and Latinos (who, because of systemic discrimination in the criminal justice system are arrested and incarcerated at rates substantially higher than whites), and because these practices are neither job-related nor consistent with business necessity,” court papers charged.

Under the agreement, Target will launch a hiring initiative for anyone in the class action impacted by this policy, so they can get jobs at any of the chain’s 1,800 U.S. stores.

Applicants in the class action who don’t currently qualify for work at Target – can get a cash payout, according to the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and Outten & Golden, the firms on the case.

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Target said it’s stopped asking about criminal history on its employment application and only gets that information toward the end of the hiring process, and gives job-seekers the chance to explain any record.