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The United States government is actually suing a private American business for discriminating against Hispanic and Asian employees because they don’t speak English on the job.

It involves a Green Bay Wisconsin metal and plastic manufacturer that fired a group of Hmong and Hispanic workers over their English skills, “even though those skills were not needed to perform their jobs,” according to the feds. More importantly, forcing employees to speak English in the U.S. violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, says the Obama administration.

Here’s the twisted explanation from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency that enforces the nation’s workplace discrimination laws; the Civil Rights Act protects employees from discrimination based on national origin, which includes the linguistic characteristics of a national origin group. Therefore, according to this reasoning, foreigners have the right to speak their native language even during work hours at an American company that requires English.

Requirements of English fluency and so-called English only rules are often implemented to make what is really discrimination appear acceptable, says the government attorney handling this case. “But superficial appearances are not fooling anyone,” he assures. “When speaking English fluently is not, in fact, required for the safe and effective performance of a job, nor for the successful operation of the employer’s business, requiring employees to be fluent in English usually constitutes employment discrimination on the basis of national origin — and thus violates federal law.”

Under President Obama the EEOC has taken a number of unprecedented actions to protect foreigners in the workplace, including illegal immigrants. In 2009 the agency issued a controversial order making a workplace English rule illegal. The directive came after the EEOC bullied a national healthcare firm to pay nearly half a million dollars to settle a discrimination lawsuit in which the government alleged that Hispanic workers were punished for speaking Spanish.

The agency has been on a roll ever since, taking legal action against businesses across the country accusing them of everything from discriminating against minorities for running criminal background and credit checks to discriminating against Muslims for not allowing hijabs on the job. The criminal background and credit checks disproportionately exclude blacks from hire, according to EEOC lawsuits against several companies. Businesses that forbid Muslim women from wearing a hijab at work violate religious rights guaranteed under the nation’s civil rights laws even when all head coverings are banned for all employees, the EEOC asserts

Last fall an Obama-appointed federal judge handed the administration a major victory, ruling that a Muslim woman’s civil rights were indeed violated by an American clothing retailer that didn’t allow her to wear the head scarf as required by her religion. The EEOC had filed the lawsuit against retail giant Abercrombie & Fitch, accusing it of religious discrimination for firing 19-year-old Umme-Hani Khan for wearing a hijab at a northern California store. The company, which focuses on hip casual wear for consumers aged 18 to 22, has a policy against head covers of any kind for its employees.

 

 

 

A new Obama administration policy that says criminal background checks are discriminatory against minority job applicants is “deeply flawed,” according to half of the commissioners who sit on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the independent and bipartisan federal agency created by Congress decades ago.

The administration has gone after companies that use criminal background checks to screen job applicants, claiming in lawsuits that the probes disproportionately exclude blacks from hire. In the last year the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency that enforces the nation’s workplace discrimination laws, has sued two large companies that screen criminal background records, asserting that it violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Ironically, the EEOC conducts criminal background checks as a condition of employment and credit background checks for most of its positions.

But when private businesses utilize the tool it violates federal civil rights laws because information about prior convictions is used to discriminate against a racial or ethnic group, according to an EEOC policy issued in mid-2012. A few months ago a federal judge hearing one of the EEOC’s discrimination lawsuits against a family-owned company in Maryland blasted the argument, ruling that the allegations are “laughable,” “distorted,” “cherry-picked,” “worthless” and “an egregious example of scientific dishonesty.”

There are simply no facts to support a theory of disparate impact, the judge wrote in his ruling, further stating: “By bringing actions of this nature, the EEOC has placed many employers in the Hobson’s choice of ignoring criminal history and credit background, thus exposing themselves to potential liability for criminal and fraudulent acts committed by employees, on the one hand, or incurring the wrath of the EEOC for having utilized information deemed fundamental by most employers.”

On the heels of that whipping the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, established by Congress in 1957 to enhance enforcement of federal civil rights laws, has released a report in which half of the agency’s commissioners sharply criticize the absurd criminal check regulation. The agency has eight commissioners, four appointed by the president and four by congress. They serve six-year terms and play a vital role in advancing civil rights through objective and comprehensive investigation, research and analysis.

The EEOC’s criminal background check policy is “deeply flawed” and exceeds the agency’s authority, writes U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Commissioner Peter N. Kirsanow, a presidential appointee. Furthermore, it was adopted without releasing a draft to the public, Kirsanow writes. He explains that the foundation of the new policy is flawed because it misapplies disparate impact theory by failing to appropriately compare non-offenders to offenders and by conflating arrestees with convicts. “Perhaps more importantly, discouraging the use of criminal background checks leaves Americans more likely to fall victim to the behavior that leads to negligent hiring lawsuits.”

Here’s another good point made by Kirsanow, an African-American lawyer with an Ivy League degree who sits on the board of the Center for New Black Leadership; the EEO’s new policy “is unlikely to increase employment among African American men who are the primary purported beneficiaries.” The civil rights commission’s vice chair, Abigail Thernstrom, and another commissioner, Todd Gaziano, collaborated with Kirsanow’s statements in the report.

Commissioner Gail Heriot, a law professor at the University of San Diego California, also denounced the policy, writing in the report that it’s an “especially ill-considered idea” that will “almost certainly do more harm than good.” Heriot, a congressional appointee to the civil rights commission, classifies the measure as a bad federal regulatory idea that can do a great deal of damage. “When the EEOC tells employers that they risk liability for race discrimination if they reject job applicants on account of their criminal records, that action will have effects from Maine to the Midway Atoll.”

At least one state has gone to court to fight the Obama administration’s preposterous new regulation limiting employers’ rights to ban hiring felons because it discriminates against minorities.

It’s been an ongoing battle between a number of companies and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency that enforces the nation’s workplace discrimination, for years. Under Obama the agency has dedicated extensive resources to go after businesses that check criminal background records to screen job applicants. In 2012 the EEOC officially adopted guidelines that limit employers’ ability to exclude felons from jobs.

The agency has also sued companies for using the checks, claiming in federal complaints that they disproportionately exclude blacks and other minorities from hire. That violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, according to the Obama administration, which has pushed hard to deter companies from using criminal background checks to screen job applicants. Of interesting note is that the EEOC conducts criminal background checks as a condition of employment and credit background checks for most of its positions. For some reason, it’s not discriminatory against minorities when the agency does it.

This week Texas fought back, suing the EEOC in federal court claiming that the guidelines against banning the hiring of felons endangers the pubic and encroaches on state sovereignty. The lawsuit says: “The State of Texas and its constituent agencies have the sovereign right to impose categorical bans on the hiring of criminals, and the EEOC has no authority to say otherwise.” Texas also asserts that the EEOC’s policy warning to investigate employers that use felony convictions as “an absolute bar to employment” conflicts with state law that prevents agencies from hiring felons.

“If state agencies choose to comply with the EEOC’s interpretation, they not only violate state law, but also must rewrite their hiring policies at taxpayer expense,” according to Texas’s lawsuit. “And these state entities also must begin evaluating and hiring felons to serve in law enforcement, teach in local elementary schools, nurse veterans and the disabled, counsel juvenile detainees, and coach Little League. This would expose the entire state—including, in particular, its most vulnerable citizens—to a class of individuals who have a proven track record of disobeying the law. And it could expose state entities to liability for employee misconduct.”

If a recent court ruling is any indication, Texas may have a good chance of winning this battle. In mid-August a federal judge hearing one of the EEOC’s criminal background cases in Maryland, blasted the administration finding the allegations of discrimination “laughable,” “distorted,” “cherry-picked,” “worthless” and “an egregious example of scientific dishonesty.”

The case involves a family-owned company (Freeman Inc.) that provides services for corporate events, conventions and exhibits. The business has 3,500 full-time and 25,000 part-time and seasonal workers throughout the U.S. Like many companies, Freeman has been a victim of embezzlement, theft, drug use and workplace violence by employees. Background checks on job applicants are essential to better evaluate candidates’ trustworthiness and reliability, according to court documents.

Obama’s EEOC claims the business “unlawfully relied upon credit and criminal background checks that caused a disparate impact against African-American, Hispanic, and male job applicants.” To support this absurd argument, the agency presented the court with “expert” data, including a detailed statistical analysis, supposedly proving its disparate impact claims. U.S. District Court Judge Roger Titus lambasted the administration’s expert data, writing that it was “laughable”; “based on unreliable data”; “rife with analytical error”; containing “a plethora of errors and analytical fallacies” and a “mind-boggling number of errors”; “completely unreliable”; “so full of material flaws that any evidence of disparate impact derived from an analysis of its contents must necessarily be disregarded”; “distorted”;  “both over and under inclusive”; “cherry-picked”; “worthless”; and “an egregious example of scientific dishonesty.”

In a painful defeat for the Obama administration, a federal appellate court has overturned a judge’s ruling that a clothing retailer discriminated against a Muslim woman for denying her a job because she wore a religious headscarf known as a hijab.

The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency that enforces the nation’s workplace discrimination laws. Under Obama the agency has brought a number of similar lawsuits on behalf of Muslims around the country alleging violations of religious and civil rights. In this case the agency accuses a retail giant, Abercrombie & Fitch, of illegally discriminating against a Muslim woman by ruling her out for employment over her religious headscarf.

The woman, Samantha Elauf, applied for a job at an Abercrombie & Fitch store in a Tulsa, Oklahoma mall in 2008. The company, which focuses on hip casual wear for consumers aged 18 to 22, has a policy against head covers of any kind for its employees. According to the EEOC it amounts to discrimination based on religion and that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Employers are required to accommodate the sincere religious beliefs or practices of employees, the agency says, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on business.

A federal judge in Oklahoma agreed, ruling in 2011 that the law imposes an obligation on the employer to accommodate the religious practices of an employee or prospective employee unless it would result in undue hardship on the conduct of its business. In his order the U.S. Chief District judge, Gregory Frizzell, said the store violated Elauf’s civil rights when it didn’t hire her. Elauf was awarded $20,000 in damages and the EEOC bragged that the court sent a clear message to employers.

But the retailer appealed and this week the Denver-based Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the ruling in favor of the EEOC, saying the store’s policy is not discriminatory, but rather intended to promote and showcase its brand, which “exemplifies a classic East Coast collegiate style of clothing.” Abercrombie & Fitch contends that prohibiting head covers is critical to the health and vitality of its “preppy” and “casual” brand, according to the ruling. 

Additionally, the federal appellate court found that Elauf’s religious headscarf only became an issue after she was ruled out as a candidate. “Ms. Elauf never informed Abercrombie prior to its hiring decision that she wore her headscarf or `hijab’ for religious reasons and that she needed an accommodation for that practice, due to a conflict between the practice and Abercrombie’s clothing policy,” the decision states.

The Obama administration has for years targeted this particular retailer over the hijab issue, filing lawsuits in different parts of the country. In fact, last month an Obama-appointed federal judge ruled that one of Abercrombie’s northern California stores violated a Muslim woman’s (Umme-Hani Khan) civil rights when it enforced the company’s not head cover policy. Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California ruled that the retailer is liable for failing to accommodate the Muslim woman’s religious beliefs and may owe punitive damages.  

“Reasonable jurors could determine that by offering Khan one option—to remove her hijab despite her religious beliefs—Abercrombie acted with malice, reckless indifference or in the face of a perceived risk that its actions violated federal law,” the judge writes in her 27-page opinion. Khan was represented by a renowned Islamic terrorist front group, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), that’s tight with the Obama administration.

 

 

Pressured by the federal government, states and municipalities across the U.S. are adopting senseless measures restricting employers from asking job applicants about criminal history.

The Obama administration claims criminal background checks are discriminatory because they disproportionately exclude minorities—especially blacks—from hire. That’s why the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency that enforces the nation’s workplace discrimination laws, is spending taxpayer dollars suing companies that run criminal background checks on job applicants.

Besides litigation, the administration is working behind the scenes by offering local governments “guidance” on passing measures banning criminal background checks. The laws are known as “ban the box” because they call for removing the question and check box that asks candidates if they’ve been convicted of a crime. So far three states have passed laws prohibiting employers from asking about criminal history and dozens of municipalities nationwide—including those in Ohio, Texas, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Delaware—have done the same, according to a nonprofit that advocates for workers’ rights.

Minnesota became the last state to pass a “ban the box” law a few months ago. The measure, which takes effect in 2014, prohibits employers from asking an applicant about his or her criminal history or performing a background check until the applicant has been selected for an interview or extended an offer of employment. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) celebrated Minnesota’s law, writing in a press relese that  as “Americans we believe in second chances.”

A legal news site notes that “of particular relevance to the Minnesota restrictions is the recent guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regarding criminal background checks. That guidance expresses the EEOC’s view that employers should not deny employment based on arrest records and should utilize conviction records only after evaluating the nature of the job, the severity of the conviction, the time elapsed since the conviction and the applicant’s rehabilitative efforts.”

Bottom line: The feds are coercing local governments to make it illegal for private companies to properly vet job candidates. Assisting in the national movement is a “community organization” in California called Legal Services for Prisoners with Children. The group helped coin the phrase “ban the box,” claiming that the questions translate into “lifelong discrimination and exclusion because of a past arrest or conviction record.”

Just a few weeks ago a federal judge hearing one of the Obama administration’s many background-check discrimination cases in Maryland blasted the claims, calling them “laughable,” “distorted,” “cherry-picked,” “worthless” and “an egregious example of scientific dishonesty.” The lashing was delivered in a 34-page opinion lambasting the government’s expert data against a family-owned company that started using background checks after being a victim of embezzlement, theft, drug use and workplace violence.

The Obama administration’s claim that criminal background checks discriminate against minority job applicants suffered a lashing from a federal court that found the allegations “laughable,” “distorted,” “cherry-picked,” “worthless” and “an egregious example of scientific dishonesty.”

That kind of whipping from a federal judge has got to hurt though it’s unlikely to deter the administration from spending more taxpayer dollars to file frivolous lawsuits against employers who use the checks to screen job applicants. Judicial Watch wrote about this a few weeks ago when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency that enforces the nation’s workplace discrimination laws, sued two large companies that screen criminal background records claiming that the checks disproportionately exclude blacks from hire.

That violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, according to the Obama administration, which has pushed hard to deter companies from using criminal background checks to screen job applicants. Of interesting note is that the EEOC conducts criminal background checks as a condition of employment and credit background checks for most of its positions. For some reason, it’s not discriminatory against minorities when the agency does it.

But it is when private businesses utilize the tool because information about prior convictions is being used to discriminate against a racial or ethnic group, according to the EEOC. Thus, the alleged violation of civil rights laws. The argument is laughable, but a federal judge hearing one of the government’s many background-check discrimination cases in Maryland wasn’t amused.

The case involves a family-owned company (Freeman Inc.) that provides services for corporate events, conventions and exhibits. The business has 3,500 full-time and 25,000 part-time and seasonal workers throughout the U.S. Like many companies, Freeman has been a victim of embezzlement, theft, drug use and workplace violence by employees. Background checks on job applicants are essential to better evaluate candidates’ trustworthiness and reliability, according to court documents.

Obama’s EEOC claims the business “unlawfully relied upon credit and criminal background checks that caused a disparate impact against African-American, Hispanic, and male job applicants.” To support this absurd argument, the agency presented the court with “expert” data, including a detailed statistical analysis, supposedly proving its disparate impact claims.

In a scathing 34-page opinion published this week, U.S. District Court Judge Roger Titus lambasted the administration’s expert data, writing that it was “laughable”; “based on unreliable data”; “rife with analytical error”; containing “a plethora of errors and analytical fallacies” and a “mind-boggling number of errors”; “completely unreliable”; “so full of material flaws that any evidence of disparate impact derived from an analysis of its contents must necessarily be disregarded”; “distorted”;  “both over and under inclusive”; “cherry-picked”; “worthless”; and “an egregious example of scientific dishonesty.”

There are simply no facts to support a theory of disparate impact, the judge writes, further stating: “By bringing actions of this nature, the EEOC has placed many employers in the “Hobson’s choice” of ignoring criminal history and credit background, thus exposing themselves to potential liability for criminal and fraudulent acts committed by employees, on the one hand, or incurring the wrath of the EEOC for having utilized information deemed fundamental by most employers.”

Though convicts don’t get special protections under the nation’s civil rights laws, the federal government is spending taxpayer dollars suing two large companies that run criminal background checks on job applicants because they disproportionately exclude blacks from hire.

This violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, according to a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency that enforces the nation’s workplace discrimination laws. The agency claims that an American unit of German car manufacturer BMW and Dollar General, the nation’s largest small-box discount retailer, use criminal background checks improperly when hiring.

That’s because they eliminate potential employees based on the criminal checks instead of reviewing each applicant and taking the crime into consideration. The automatic ban has had the effect of discriminating against black job applicants, according to the EEOC, which says it has the right to sue because information about prior convictions is being used to discriminate against a racial or ethnic group. Thus the alleged violation of civil rights laws.

BMW and Dollar General are “very serious systematic race discrimination cases,” according to the EEOC’s general counsel. The agency found “statistical disparities” in the hiring rates of “blacks and nonblacks” after the companies ran criminal-background checks. Dollar General revoked conditional employment offers for 10% of its black applicants but only 7% of “nonblack” applicants during a three-year period, the EEOC revealed, calling it a “gross disparity” based on race.

BMW’s offense was requiring that employees of a new logistics contractor undergo criminal background checks in 2008. Of the 645 employees who would work at the auto maker’s South Carolina plant, 88 were terminated based on their criminal record. The EEOC says because 80% of the terminated employees were black, BMW “disproportionately screened out African Americans from jobs.”

Since Obama became president, the EEOC has pushed hard to deter companies from using criminal background checks to screen job applicants because the administration says it discriminates against blacks. Last year soft drink manufacturer Pepsi Co. paid $3.13 million to settle EEOC charges that its screening policy discriminates against blacks by improperly using criminal checks.

The EEOC’s investigation revealed that more than 300 African Americans were adversely affected when Pepsi applied a criminal background check policy that disproportionately excluded black applicants from permanent employment. The cash was mostly divided among black applicants cut over criminal records and Pepsi agreed to “re-examine its policy and modify it to ensure that unwarranted roadblocks to employment are removed.”

A few years ago the EEOC bullied a national healthcare firm into paying nearly half a million dollars to settle a discrimination lawsuit for requiring employees to speak English on the job, even though federal law allows employers to require it. The EEOC found that enforcing an English-only rule against Hispanics violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by committing national origin discrimination against the Spanish speakers. Years earlier, the EEOC sued the Christian charity Salvation Army for national origin discrimination because it required two Hispanic employees at its Massachusetts thrift store to speak English on the job.

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