In a landmark ruling, a federal court judge in New York ruled that employers may be held accountable for failing to hire a convicted murderer in 2022. The motion gave Henry Franklin the green light to initiate a class action lawsuit against Amazon and its Whole Foods division and its contractor, Cornucopia.
Franklin is a convicted murderer who served a 25-year sentence for second-degree murder before being paroled in 2018.
In 2019, Franklin applied for the position of delivery worker with Cornucopia. The vendor staffs Amazon’s subsidiary, Whole Foods, with delivery workers. Franklin alleged the job application on a recruitment website required applicants to submit a background check.
Bungled Background Check
Shortly after filling out the application, Franklin received a letter from Amazon informing him that the online retailer had conducted a background check. The letter added that the online store would decide in 10 days.
A fortnight later, Franklin claimed he received a rejection letter from Amazon. The letter informed him that his application was denied due to the information in his background report.
In response, Franklin filed a putative class action suit against Amazon, Whole Foods, and Cornucopia. He claimed the defendants applied discriminatory screening policies and practices that violated the New York State Human Rights Law, New York City Human Rights Law, and the New York State Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Failure to Dismiss
The defendants filed to dismiss the lawsuit because the plaintiff lied on his job application. Franklin lied and claimed that he had no prior conviction on his application.
According to the NYSHRL, a prospective employer may only decline to hire an applicant on two grounds.
- If there’s a direct relationship between a criminal conviction and the hiring position.
- If hiring the individual would pose an unreasonable danger to the public.
Despite lying on his application, Franklin said he was rehabilitated citizen looking to turn over a new life.
Although sympathetic to Amazon’s dilemma of sending a convicted murderer to people’s homes, the judge found the case had merit. The failure to dismiss allowed Franklin to initiate his punitive lawsuit.
Avoid Hiring Suits and Other Legal Issues
A background check can help staff your ranks with trustworthy and dependable employees. Bungling the process can lead to unwanted and expensive legal consequences.