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Biden Files Lawsuit Against Gas Station Chain

via PBS NewsHour

The EEOC filed a lawsuit against convenience store chain Sheetz, alleging its practice of denying employment to applicants with criminal records had a disparate racial impact, disproportionately screening out black, Native American, and multiracial applicants.

While not accusing Sheetz of intentional discrimination, the EEOC claimed the hiring policy violated federal law prohibiting practices that negatively impact minorities.

“According to the lawsuit, Sheetz has maintained a longstanding practice of screening all job applicants for records of criminal conviction and then denying them employment based on those records,” the EEOC stated.

Sheetz disputed the allegations, noting efforts to promote diversity and resolve the long-running dispute with the EEOC.

The day the suit was announced, President Biden visited a Sheetz location, raising questions about whether he was aware of the racial discrimination claim against the company by his own administration.

“Diversity and inclusion are essential parts of who we are,” company spokesman Nick Ruffner said. “We take these allegations seriously. We have attempted to work with the EEOC for nearly eight years to find common ground and resolve this dispute.”

The EEOC is seeking to force Sheetz to offer jobs and back pay to those denied work due to the allegedly unlawful criminal background check policy.

“Federal law mandates that employment practices causing a disparate impact because of race or other protected classifications must be shown by the employer to be necessary to ensure the safe and efficient performance of the particular jobs at issue,” EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence said.

“Even when such necessity is proven, the practice remains unlawful if there is an alternative practice available that is comparably effective in achieving the employer’s goals but causes less discriminatory effect.”

EEOC Philadelphia District Office Director Jamie R. Williamson stated, “This highlights the significance of the observance of April as Second Chance Month, underscoring our nation’s commitment to reintegrating individuals with criminal records into society by ensuring they have fair access to employment and other essential services. To that end, the EEOC is dedicated to making sure that individuals with criminal records are not unlawfully excluded from employment opportunities because of race.”

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