A new federal lawsuit points out the dangers inherent in a commonly used applicant screening technique: background checks.
Roberto Arroyo, a former contract employee for management consulting giant Accenture, alleges that the company discriminated against him when he was let go after a background check revealed a decade-old felony conviction.
Arroyo had worked for Accenture a year and a half when the company offered him a permanent position — pending the results of a backjground check. When the check uncovered a conviction on a vehicular homicide charge following a drunk driving incident, the company withdrew the job offer and terminated his contract.
Arroyo’s suit alleges that Accenture’s practice of background checks discriminates against African-Americans and Latinos.
Job fitness connected to conviction?
The key question at issue here: Should Accenture be able to fire an employee for a prior conviction, even if that conviction bears no relationship to the employee’s job?
Samuel Miller, one of Arroyo’s attorneys, said in a statement that Arroyo was “an excellent, well-liked” employee during the 17 months he served as a contract employee. The results of the criminal check had “no bearing” on Arroyo’s “fitness or ability to do the job,” the lawsuit alleges.
As the amount of personal information has burgeoned on the Internet, the use of background checks has become more common. And so have employee lawsuits charging that they’ve been discriminated against based on the results of those checks.
The case is Arroyo, et al. v. Accenture LLP, U.S. Dist. Crt, S.D. N.Y., No. 10-cv-03013 (JSR). We’ll keep you posted.