SDNY Class Action Challenges Amazon’s Criminal Background Screening Practices

A woman who applied for an unspecified job with Amazon sued the company on Monday for violation of her rights under the New York State Human Rights Law, arguing that Inc. employment to qualified applicants. Specifically, the lawsuit says that the company applies an overbroad and discriminatory blanket refusal to hire many applicants with criminal convictions.

The complaint explains that the plaintiff applied for a job in 2017 after having received a conviction for Welfare Fraud in the 5th Degree, a misdemeanor, in 2015. The plaintiff reportedly paid the amount due in restitution and never served jail time.

Yet, the filing says that Amazon denied the plaintiff employment without inquiring into the circumstances of the conviction and without analyzing the statutorily-required factors. The analysis reportedly helps an employer determine whether “the individual poses an unreasonable risk or was convicted of a crime that is directly related to the ability to perform the job sought.”

As a result, the plaintiff alleges that the denial was improper, and part of a larger practice of disregarding the law. The suit seeks to certify a class of any people who were denied or terminated from Amazon in New York state based in whole or in part on their prior criminal convictions within the last three years.

The filing requests injunctive and declaratory relief requiring Amazon to change its practices. It also requests back pay and compensatory damages, an award of nominal and/or exemplary damages, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees and costs.The plaintiff and putative class are represented by Watkins Law.