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Macy’s Facing Lawsuit Over Its ‘Discriminatory’ Criminal History Screening After Firing Employee with Misdemeanor

Macy’s Inc. is facing a discrimination claim after the company fired an employee with a misdemeanor conviction.

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund and some partner organizations filed a lawsuit on that employee’s behalf Wednesday. The suit is claiming Macy’s used discriminatory hiring practices to disproportionately disqualify not only the former employee but other Black and Latino job applicants.

Macy's lights for cancer
A Macy’s department store lights up its building in support of cancer research. (Photo by Facebook)

Jenetta Rolfer, the former Macy’s employee named as a plaintiff in the suit, said she was hired to work at a Macy’s Credit Granting Department in New York in October 2018 but was fired weeks later when the company found a misdemeanor conviction in her background report.

Rolfer said because of a decade-old traffic related incident, she was fired abruptly without receiving a copy of the background report or notice of her rights.

“I was devastated to be fired over information in my background check that is unrelated to my ability to be a productive employee,” she said.

Although Macy’s chief diversity officer Shawn Outler said he can’t comment on pending litigation, he told Atlanta Black Star in an emailed statement that the company is in adherence with federal, state and local laws and is committed to “ensuring the safety and security” of staff and customers.

Macy’s policies require all senior executives, credit and customer service workers, and asset protection and fine jewelry workers to complete third-party background screening.

About 60 percent of Macy’s employees are minorities, and about 75 percent are women, according to the company.

“We believe we are strongest when all aspects of our business reflect the diversity of the customers and communities we serve,” Outler said.

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund, however, doesn’t think the company’s policies reflect that belief.

It partnered with Outten & Golden law firm and the New York City nonprofit Youth Represent to file the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

President of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund Sherrilyn Ifill called Macy’s criminal history screening policies “overly restrictive and punitive.”

“Macy’s must amend its discriminatory criminal history screening policy and create more economic opportunities for deserving Americans,” Ifill said.

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