Macy’s wrongly fires employees over minor convictions: suit

Macy’s unfairly treats old, minor convictions as reasons to deny jobs to potential employees of color, a new lawsuit charges.

Jenetta Rolfer says in her suit filed Wednesday in Manhattan Federal Court that she signed a Macy’s job offer last year to work in its credit granting department.

The company then contacted her about the results of a background check, which uncovered a misdemeanor public nuisance conviction stemming from a decade-old traffic related incident, according to the suit.

Rolfer, 36, explained she had been busted for failure to provide proof of insurance because she was unable to afford the insurance premiums at the time, the suit says. Nevertheless, she was fired.

“I was excited to work for Macy’s. I was qualified and had the experience to do the job well and it was a great opportunity for me and my family. I was devastated to be fired over information in my background check that is unrelated to my ability to be a productive employee,” Rolfer, of St. Paul, Minn., said in a statement.

The strict screening policy at Macy’s has impacted numerous other job applicants and employees, according to the suit that seeks class action status.

The Fortune Society, which joined Rolfer in the suit, says Macy’s tough background check rules, applied company-wide, disproportionately impacted black and Latino job seekers.

The group, which helps people with criminal records find jobs, says Macy’s screening policy violates discrimination laws.

Fortune represents other people of color who are restricted from joining the new lawsuit because they signed agreements with Macy’s pledging to resolve legal disputes in private arbitration.

“All applicants deserve to be evaluated based on the qualifications necessary to perform the job, independent of any justice history. Given a fair opportunity to succeed, people with justice system involvement would add significant value to the workforce at Macy’s,” Fortune Society CEO JoAnne Page said.

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