BMW Sued by Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for Discrimination

By Jacob Brown | June 14, 2013
While we don't doubt that you may loathe your HR director at work--unless you are the HR director--we have to admit those people have some tough jobs to do. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has a whole bunch of rules that hiring managers have to remember regarding age, race, gender, and more. Sometimes, it's easy for something to fall through the cracks. That's why the EEOC is suing BMW for discrimination. At one of its South Carolina facilities--the automaker produces most of its crossovers there--BMW changed staffing contractors in 2008 and told all of the workers to reapply for their jobs if they wanted to come back. The firm was instructed by BMW to conduct new criminal background checks, which it did. Out of 645 employees that reapplied, 88 were denied their jobs back. Of those 88, 70 were black. In a factory where 55 percent of employees are black, 80 percent of the applicants weeded out also happened to be of the same race, disproportionately so, says the EEOC. Spokeswoman Christine Nazer of the EEOC says BMW violated the Civil Rights Act "by utilizing a criminal conviction policy that disproportionately screened out African-Americans." BMW said in a statement that it complied to the letter of the law. "We have a strong culture of non-discrimination as evidenced by the Company's highly diverse workforce," the automaker said. "The BMW plant in South Carolina employs thousands of people and providing a safe work environment is one of the Company's highest priorities." Where the EEOC draws its biggest complaint is that BMW didn't discriminate in the particular circumstances behind the criminal convictions or how long ago they were. In the U.S., the EEOC exists to make sure workplace populations of qualified employees generally match the areas where they are; minorities are also supposed to be represented. Sometimes, it doesn't always work that way. Firing workers under a discrimination policy is a lot harder than hiring them. For instance, would a male cheerleader really work in the NFL? No. Employers have a right to prescreen who they want for a particular job. Who's right in this BMW case comes down to whether you believe the automaker was hiring the employees or firing them. Everyone had to reapply, so there was no discrimination with the process. But should there have been to get the 88 workers back on staff? Let us know in the comments section. Source: CNN Money