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Law and Ethics Paper

In: Business and Management

Submitted By sli12
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Law Case Analysis According to the law case EEOC v. FREEMAN, the EEOC filed a law suit against Freeman and alleged the company’s hiring policy which includes criminal background and credit history checks, has a disparate impact on African-American, Hispanic, and male applicants. And the material fact of this case is whether Defendant’s hiring criteria of conducting criminal background and credit history checks is consistent with business necessity. Since the Defendant was charged by the EEOC with unlawful discrimination in this case, the source of law is the Title VII of Civil Rights Act of 1964. “Title VII prohibits discrimination in hiring, firing, trainings, promotion, discipline, or other workplace decisions on the basis of an employee or applicant’s race, color, gender, national origin, or religion” (Bennett- Alexander & Hartman, 2011). As a federal law enforcement agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has obligations to investigate violations of Title VII and enforce laws against discrimination in workplace. In addition to the EEOC’s unique role, Title VII requires federal district courts to take the Title VII discrimination case for judicial review only after the EEOC has first disposed of the claim (Bennett- Alexander & Hartman, 2011). And according to the case, since the EEOC accepted applicant Katrina Vaughn’s discrimination complaint about Defendant’s violation of Title VII by rejecting hiring her based on her credit history information, the legal issue of this case before the court is after accepted Vaughn’s complaint and conducted investigation through legal process, the EEOC has disposed of the claim. However, the conciliation was not reached between Vaughn and Freeman, and the EECO eventually filed the suit in the federal district court. Because the court requires “reliable and accurate statistical analysis performed by a qualified expert” to prove defendant’s practice of disparate impact, the plaintiff submitted “initial and amended” reports that included a statistical analysis of Defendant’s hiring policy prepared by expert Murphy and Huebner. However, the Plaintiff’s statistical report caused the Defendant’s three motions included precluding the testimony of Murphy and Huebner, summary judgment, and leaving to file a sur-reply in response to the motion to exclude expert testimony. Also, Defendant argued the experts’ statistical reports are “inadmissible” to prove the existence of disparate impact, because experts’ conclusions were depending on unreliable data, untimely, and had analytical errors. In addition, Defendant argued that the experts were unclear and unable to isolate “which aspect of Defendant’s credit and criminal check processes allegedly causes the disparate impact”; which showed the failing to identify a prima facie case. Lastly, Defendant argued that the national statistics were unable to prove suspect classes received disparate impact from harsh hiring policies. On the contrary, the Plaintiff’s argument was even though two experts’ statistical reports were inadmissible to demonstrate disparate impact, the citation of the national statistics were sufficient to prove the disparate impact. Since the Defendant claimed the background investigation policies were multi-step processes that involved “different types of checks depending on the specific job and individual was seeking, consideration of both subjection and objective criteria, and examination of a long list of faction, any one of which might control the ultimate employment decision”; the EEOC also argued it was unfeasible, not meaningful, and unnecessary to examine each sub-factor separately. Furthermore, the EEOC argued that Defendant provided error data and finally caused many alleged errors in Murphy’s dataset. Later, Plaintiff contended that Defendant’s reply brief included “new” evidence and “new” arguments, so the EEOC should be allowed to file a sur-reply. Without showing sufficient evidence and reliable statistical demonstration to prove Defendant’s background check policies caused a disparate impact under Title VII, the court granted the Defendant Freeman’s motion to preclude Expert Testimony, and granted the Defendant’s motion for Summary Judgment, and also denied Plaintiff EEOC’s motion for Leave to File Sur-Reply. Finally, the court dismissed this case. Undoubtedly, the court’s decision was made upon several legal bases. Firstly, the court granted the Defendant’s motion for summary judgment relied on the rule of law that “when ruling on a motion for summary judgment, ‘[t]he evidence of nonmovant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor.’” Also, based on the law, “if the plaintiff cannot make a prima facie showing of disparate impact, it is appropriate to grant summary judgment for the employer”, the court decided to grant summary judgment in favor of Defendant. Moreover, the court granted the Defendant Freeman’s motion to preclude expert testimony, because the “Federal Rule of Evidence 104(a) allows for the exclusion of unreliable expert testimony if the proponent cannot establish by a preponderance of the evidence that these requirements are met”. Besides, under “Rule 26(e)”, Murphy failed to provide proper supplemental reports and declarations. Finally, the court denied Plaintiff EEOC for leave to file sur-reply, because the “Local Rule 105.2(a)” stated that surreplies may be permitted when the moving party would be unable to contest matters presented to the court for the first time in the opposing party’s reply.” However, under the court’s scheduling order and the federal rules regarding expert discovery, the sur-reply was denied. As far as I am concerned, there is no deny that the court’s decision was correct, because the EEOC really failed to provide reliable and sufficient evidence to support the claim that Freeman’s criminal and credit background checks created disparate impact. Also, Plaintiff didn’t make a Prima facie to demonstrate the practice of disparate impact. Besides, based on the evidences of using “incomplete data sets and inadequate statistical techniques”, making “plethora of errors and analytical fallacies”, and using data from irrelevant time period; the two experts’ reports not only were inadmissible but also should be precluded. When compared with the EEOC, Defendant not only proved that the company used a “multi-step evaluation process to review the information obtained by PSA and determine whether an applicant was qualified to begin work”, but also showed the allegedly discriminatory hiring policies were job-related for the position . Furthermore, Defendant received support from lay witness Suzanne Bragg with a declaration and exhibits, and the witness pointed out the numerous factual and analytical fallacies in the two experts ‘reports. Due to those reasons, I strongly agree with the court’s decision. Although the EEOC has obligations to help employees against workplace discriminations, the EEOC’s active investigation of employer’s wrongful behaviors might cause employers in trouble. Since if employers ignore or abandon the criminal and credit background checks based on the fear of EEOC’s, employers might be liable for negligent hiring. On the contrary, those background checks can ensure qualified employees but will cause increasing law suits of discrimination. So, should employers ignore or still use the criminal and credit background checks during hiring? As this case presented, the ethical implications are firstly employers should use the criminal and credit background checks for avoiding negligent hiring and business necessity; then employers have to be very careful about hiring criteria-making; and employers need to prepare for the EEOC’s investigation finally. To sum up, after analyzing this case, the first lesson I have learned from the court’s decision is sufficient evidence really plays an important role and can influence the outcome of the case. Secondly, although the EEOC has responsibility to enforce laws against discrimination in workplace, the expert testimony can be precluded without providing reliable and accurate statistical records. In addition, in order to avoid negligent hiring and further issues, it is ethical for employers to conduct criminal and credit background checks during hiring. Finally, employers have to prove criminal and credit background checks are job related based on the disparate impact claim.

Works Cited
Bennett- Alexander, D. D., & Hartman, L. P. (2011). Employment Law for Business. New York: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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