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New Lawsuit Alleges Macy’s Discriminates Against Black, Latino Employees in Its Hiring Practices

Jun 28, 2019 / Media Coverage / The Root — Jay Connor

If the allegations leveled against Macy’s in a recent lawsuit are true, the department store chain could be in serious trouble.

NBC News reports that the Fortune Society Inc., a nonprofit that aids people with criminal records in securing employment and reintegrating into society, filed a lawsuit alleging Macy’s discriminates against black and brown employees. Specifically, Macy’s is being accused of either refusing to hire or terminating the employment of individuals with prior criminal convictions, regardless of the severity of their offense.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Jenetta Rolfer, a black woman who claims she was offered a position in the credit and customer service department at Macy’s in October 2018. Though she qualified for the job, she was fired shortly after her start date after being subjected to a background check.

From NBC News:

The suit, which seeks class-action status, claims that while Rolfer wasn’t immediately provided with the results of her background check, she tried to explain to her employer that the misdemeanor conviction that she believed had led to her termination was a decade old and the result of her not being able to provide proof of insurance during a traffic incident because she couldn’t afford the premiums at the time.

She received a letter from Macy’s formally rescinding her employment in November, and received a copy of her background check in December, the lawsuit said.

If this accusation is true, Macy’s has violated federal law by not abiding by the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which requires employers to provide both prospective and fired employees with their background check results.

Additionally, the Fortune Society asserts that Rolfer’s situation is just one example of how Macy’s habitually violates the rights and liberties of black and brown people, as specified by the New York City Human Rights Law and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

“Despite knowing of its obligations under the NYCHRL, Macy’s has denied, and continues to deny, employment to job applicants and employees with very old, non-job related convictions and notwithstanding mitigating circumstances and evidence of rehabilitation,” the lawsuit said.

In response to the lawsuit, Macy’s chief diversity officer Shawn Outler provided the following statement to The Root:

“Macy’s, Inc. is committed to an inclusive work culture that supports our company’s core values – Acceptance, Integrity, Respect and Giving Back. We believe we are strongest when all aspects of our business reflect the diversity of the customers and communities we serve. Company-wide, approximately 60% of our colleagues are ethnic minorities and approximately 75% are women.

We are committed to ensuring the safety and security of our colleagues and customers, securing proprietary business information, and safeguarding confidential customer, colleague and company data. All Macy’s, Inc. senior executives, Credit and Customer Service (MCCS), asset protection and fine jewelry colleagues, as well as certain support roles are required to complete third party background screening. For all other job functions, we are consistent in our approach to the consideration of criminal history in adherence with EEOC guidelines, as well as applicable local and state laws, and consider, among other things, the requirements of the job, the amount of time that has elapsed, and the nature of any offenses.”

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