FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Greta Bergstrom, 651.336.6722, email@example.com
NAACP, TAKEACTION MINNESOTA ANNOUNCE 10 COMPLAINTS FILED WITH EEOC AGAINST TARGET CORPORATION FOR UNFAIR HIRING PRACTICES
“Target Has A Huge Opportunity To Help Reduce Minnesota’s Worst-in-Nation Racial Jobs Gap By Adopting New EEOC Hiring Guidelines”
Minneapolis, MN (February 20, 2013) – Standing outside the Hennepin County Government center on a frigid Wednesday morning, the St. Paul chapter of the NAACP and statewide people’s network TakeAction Minnesota held a joint press conference to announce ten formal complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against Target Corporation. The complaints accuse Target Corporation of engaging in unfair hiring practices that unnecessarily discriminate against applicants of color who have criminal records in their past but who are presently qualified for the jobs which they are applying for.
Dan McGrath, TakeAction Minnesota’s Executive Director said “TakeAction Minnesota is deeply invested in making our economy here in Minnesota more equitable. But Minnesota has the worst-in-the-nation racial jobs gap and as a state, the question to be asking is ‘why?’. As Minnesota’s fourth largest employer, Target Corporation has a particular responsibility to help close this gap. We expect more of Target and hope they will take this opportunity to lead and make the changes necessary to ensure fair hiring no matter a person’s background.”
Jeff Martin, President of the NAACP’s St. Paul chapter said he was “proud to stand in solidarity with TakeAction Minnesota as we work to call attention to a very serious problem. We believe it is unacceptable for a corporate citizen such as Target to practice blanket exclusionary hiring tactics that contribute to our worst-in-the-nation racial jobs gap. We expect more of Target and are calling on Target to partner with us to move our state forward.” Martin said the NAACP will provide assistance and resources to individuals who believe they have been discriminated against based on their criminal background.
Over the past eight months, TakeAction Minnesota’s Justice 4 All program has worked with one-hundred-and-fifty people, the majority people of color with records in their past, who have failed to secure employment with Target after applying. Of these, only a handful were granted an interview.
Kissy Mason, a leader in TakeAction Minnesota’s Justice 4 All program and an EEOC complaintant herself, detailed her own employment-seeking experience with Target. Despite having only a misdemeanor in her past and having secured an expungement, Mason also failed to secure employment with Target. Of those who applied, Mason was granted an interview and ultimately offered a job as a cashier at the Minnetonka Target store to which she had applied. However, two days after given her start date, Target called her to let her know she could not start orientation due to her criminal background. “I was excited to work in my community, at my favorite store and to start back helping support my family. In my opinion, it seems Target is not interested in hiring people of color with criminal backgrounds and this is not right. We want Target to adopt fair hiring practices.”
Steven Andrew Smith, a partner at Nichols Kaster, PLLP which represents Kissy Mason, stated “It is significant that ten individuals are simultaneously filing these charges, as it demonstrates the impact of this policy on a broader scale. It’s encouraging to see prospective employees standing up for themselves in this area. Hopefully corporate America will begin to see the error in policies like this, and endeavor to level the playing field so that all job applicants are given equal access to open positions, without regard to skin color.”
McGrath says he believes “a troubling pattern exists” and the EEOC complaints filed today could be just the tip of the iceberg. He hopes Target will step up and make a choice to change their hiring practices so they are fairly assessing each applicant’s qualifications rather than judging them in overly broad terms, placing a disparate impact on communities of color based on how they weigh criminal records during the hiring process.
As a result, TakeAction Minnesota and the NAACP are asking Target to adopt the EEOC’s hiring guidelines so that individual assessments of applicants with criminal records in their past can be done, allowing more people with records a chance to secure employment and economic stability. Specifically, the two organizations are asking Target to take into account:
- the length of time since an offense occurred
- the type and severity of the offense itself, the vast majority of which are non-violent misdemeanors
- the nature of the particular job an applicant is seeking
State Representative Raymond Dehn whose district represents most of downtown Minneapolis as well as the southern portion of North Minneapolis also participated in the news conference. Dehn said his district is “one of the hardest hit areas of the state” when it comes to racial disparities in employment and hopes Target will open a dialog about fair hiring practices now that the EEOC complaints have been filed.
# # #
TakeAction Minnesota is a statewide people’s network of more than 14,000 individuals and 28 organizational members.
We work collaboratively to raise the voices of Minnesotans in their own communities to advance social, racial and economic justice. www.TakeActionMinnesota.org