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Did BMW Handle Risk Management Properly?

August 26, 2015 | Staffing Blog

BMW is facing a federal discrimination lawsuit following a criminal background check it asked a logistics company to administer at its Greenville, SC plant. The background check eventually excluded 88 workers from continued employment at the BMW plant. In addition, many of the let go workers were African-American.

The claimants and the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, (EEOC), allege that BMW’s,

“criminal background check policy disproportionately excluded blacks from working at the company’s South Carolina plant.”

BMW officials have made no comment on the allegations except to state that they can’t comment on specifics because the litigation is pending, and the company,

“…believes it has complied with the letter and the spirit of the law and will defend itself against the EEOC’s allegations of race discrimination.”

How Did This Happen?

In 2008, BMW hired a new logistics provider and required that company perform criminal background checks on any UTi employee that applied to continue to work with BMW. The new logistics provider background checked 645 employees, and found 88 who had criminal convictions that violated BMW’s policies.

BMW then barred these workers from the plant and the new logistics company refused to hire them.

  • 70 of the employees were African-American,
  • Many of the employees had been working at the plant for several years and had worked for BMW through several other logistics providers,
  • One claimant had a 14 year work history with the company, and
  • One claimant had a 12 year work history with the company

Though a separate logistics company administered the background checks, the company isn’t named as a defendant in the law suit.

UTi workers provided auto-parts unloading and inventory services at the South Carolina plant; and the claimants were already UTi employees at the time the new company conducted the background checks. Because of this, 69 of the claimants are seeking back-pay and other financial relief.

Risk Management or Racism?

The EEOC feels that the case is a clear race discrimination case and is seeking lost and future wages and benefits. They also want to discourage discrimination and barring practices from taking root in the BMW company culture. The EEOC also feels that criminal records checks have an especially negative affect on African-Americans and Latinos trying to make an honest living, and that employers shouldn’t use arrests and minimal records alone to determine whether a potential employee will engage in criminal conduct.

Perhaps Reuben Daniels, director of the EEOC Charlotte District Office, says it best:

“Employers must carefully evaluate the age and nature of convictions when using such information to make employment decisions.”

As you can see, it’s important to handle risk management properly when it comes to your employment practices. One false move, and your company could face a lawsuit. However, having an industry expert on your side can help to insure that you hire the right team and that you do everything by the book. So,contact us today. We know hiring. We work with the best; and we know logistics!