Stating that Target’s background check policy was “harmful to many qualified applicants who deserved a fair shot at a good job,”  NAACP Legal Defense fund president Sherrilyn Ifill observed, “Criminal background information can be a legitimate tool for screening job applicants, but only when appropriately linked to relevant questions such as how long ago the offense occurred and whether it was a nonviolent or misdemeanor offense.”

Target Store PhotoIn April, the retailer settled a class action lawsuit filed in 2006 which alleged that Target’s use of criminal background checks essentially carried racial and ethnic disparities that exist in the criminal justice system into the employment process. More than 41,000 African-American and Latino applicants were denied jobs based on Target’s criminal history screening process from May 2008 to December 2016 alone, according to information produced by the retailer.

Target revised hiring procedures in 2014, removing criminal history questions from job applications. The company continues to ask about previous convictions, but questions now come at final stages of the hiring process.

The settlement provides hiring preferences for class members and potential monetary awards in lieu of employment. $600,000 will go to nonprofits that provide re-entry support to individuals with criminal records. Attorneys’ fees of $1.9 million are included in the settlement fund.


Bhattarai, Abha, Target to pay $3.74 million to settle claims that it discriminated against black, Latino job applicants, The Washington Post, 4/5/18.

Milam-Perez, Lisa, Top labor and employment developments in April 2018, Wolters-Kluwer Employment Daily, 5/6/18.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons