Pepsi Beverages will be paying over three million dollars to settle a charge of racial discrimination filed by the Minneapolis Area Office of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The company will also be providing job offers and training as per the agreement.
The EEOC initiated an investigation into the criminal background check policy formerly utilized by Pepsi. The investigation found that more than 300 African American applicants had been unfavorably affected by a background check under this policy, which unduly disqualified the applicants from permanent employment at the company. According to the policy, applicants would had been arrested pending prosecution were excluded from a permanent position even if they had never been convicted of a crime. Applicants were likewise denied employment if arrested or convicted of particular minor offenses. Denying employment based on arrest and conviction records is a possible violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. If the arrest or conviction is not relevant to the job, it could restrict employment opportunities for some people based on race or ethnicity.
“The EEOC has long standing guidance and policy statements on the use of arrest and conviction records in employment,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien in a press release. “I commend Pepsi’s willingness to reexamine its policy and modify it to ensure that unwarranted roadblocks to employment are removed.”