We were recently contacted by a person who received a letter about a settlement just reached by DolGenCorp, LLC (Dollar General) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), informing him that he may be eligible to claim part of the settlement, due to discrimination uncovered in the store chain’s hiring practices.
The settlement was reached in November of 2019, after the EEOC presented their case to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago, claiming that Dollar General had discriminated against job applicants through the use of criminal conviction background checks. The EEOC claimed that, by using these background checks, African American applicants were denied positions at a much higher rate than their white counterparts.
According to a press release from the EEOC, they believe that Dollar General was in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, because it was clear that race was the largest factor in determining whether or not they hired an applicant following the criminal background check.
In the press release, EEOC Chicago District Director Julianne Bowman explains that “[b]ecause of the racial disparities in the American criminal justice system, use of criminal background checks often has a disparate impact on African Americans.”
Instead of taking their chances in front of U.S. District Court Judge Andrea Wood, Dollar General agreed to a settlement and a three-year consent decree. This decree states that Dollar General will pay out $6 million to African American applicants who faced discrimination by the business between January 1, 2004 and September 30, 2019,
This agreement also says that if Dollar General wants to continue using criminal background checks on potential employees, they “must hire a criminology consultant to develop a new criminal background check based on several factors including the time since conviction, the number of offenses, the nature and gravity of the offense(s), and the risk of recidivism.”
Gregory Gochanour, who serves as the regional attorney for the EEOC’s Chicago District, believes this case with Dollar General will create positive change:
This case is important because Dollar General is not just providing relief for a past practice but for the future as well… If the company plans to use criminal history, it must retain a criminologist to develop a fair process. Unlike other background checks based on unproven myths and biases about people with criminal backgrounds, Dollar General’s new approach will be informed by experts with knowledge of actual risk.
The applicants and/or employees who may be eligible to make a claim in this settlement started receiving letters about it in early February. The former applicant that reached out to us provided us with a copy of this letter, which was dated February 3, 2020.
Here is what the letter says:
The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recent resolved its lawsuit against Dolgencorp, LLC (“Dollar General”), which alleged that Dollar General’s use of criminal history in hiring decisions violated Title VII by creating a disparate impact on Blacks. Dollar General filed an answer denying EEOC’s allegations. The case was resolved by a voluntary settlement; the court did not rule for or against EEOC or Dollar General.
You are receiving this letter because you may be eligible to participate in the settlement. To be eligible to participate in the settlement, you must 1) be Black; 2) have been conditionally hired by Dollar General between January 1, 2004 and September 30, 2019; and 3) had your conditional offer of employment rescinded because you failed Dollar General’s criminal background check. Dollar General may not retaliate against you for participating in this claim process. If you are not eligible to participate, please disregard this letter.
The settlement requires that Dollar General hire a Criminal History Consultant to evaluate the use of criminal conviction history in hiring decisions by Dollar General. Under this settlement, if Dollar General intends to use criminal conviction history, it must implement the Criminal History Consultant’s recommendations within approximately six months. If you re-apply for employment with Dollar General after the Consultant’s recommendations are implemented, you will be evaluated pursuant to the revised criminal history review process.
The settlement also requires that Dollar General pay into a settlement fund for eligible individuals. The enclosed form seeks information that EEOC will use to determine whether you…
If you believe you may be eligible to receive part of this settlement and have not yet been contacted, you can find more information on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s website: http://www.eeoc.gov/