The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has set its sights on a surprising target: the U.S. Census Bureau.
The EEOC has filed a federal lawsuit charging that the Bureau discriminated against “more than 100,000 minorities who were not selected for census work because of unprosecuted arrests and old, minor, and irrelevant convictions for offenses such as unlawful assembly and loitering,” according to a press release from the New York law firm Outten & Golden.
The Bureau illegally screened out applicants with old arrests for minor or unconvicted offenses that likely wouldn’t have disqualified the candidates for other jobs — including many positions in the federal government, the lawsuit claims.
According to the EEOC, the Bureau gave applicants with prior arrests 30 days to produce court documentation of the disposition of the charges. But “the Bureau “knew full well that the burden of obtaining these records would be too great an obstacle for over 90% of these applicants,” according to Outten & Golden attorney Adam Klein.
And here’s the kicker: the EEOC says it warned the Census Bureau its practice “could result in massive racial and ethnic discrimination.”
A coalition of rights organizations have banded together to bring the lawsuit. The group includes:
- Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Washington, D.C.
- Center for Constitutional Rights, New York
- Community Service Society, New York
- Indian Law Resource Center, Helena, MT
- Community Legal Services, Inc., Philadelphia
- LatinoJustice PRLDEF, New York, and
- Public Citizen Litigation Group, Washington, D.C.
To view the coalition’s Web site devoted to the lawsuit, go here.