A legal advocacy group has taken issue with more rigorous Amazon criminal background checks by delivery companies contracted to Amazon. The checks have been seen to disproportionately affect black and Latino drivers. The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights based in Boston have contacted Amazon CEO in respect of the new policy. The Amazon criminal background checks do not consider past performance in employment and is more weighted towards prior interaction with law enforcement. The committee advised between 30 and 40 drivers, mostly black or Latino, had their employment terminated. Terminations as a direct result of the revised Amazon criminal background checks. Amazon did no appear to allow individuals the opportunity to explain records as per the EOEC criteria.

Asides from the legal grey line the committee puts forward Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The checks have to be justified as “business necessary” if a disproportionate amount of minorities are affected. The Amazon criminal background checks policy is also seen as poor business practice. The committee also argued that the revised criteria is seen as limiting diversity while also removing qualified personnel from the work force. The transport operatives received notification in August from Amazon. Those drivers that failed to comply were “deactivated” shortly thereafter. Employees that were doing a competent job were dismissed en masse. There was no consideration given to any individual.

Amazon state they have always maintained a thorough background check policy for delivery drivers and that they strive to promote customer trust and safety. The Amazon criminal background checks policy focuses on motor vehicle and job related convictions. The policy does not include gender, race, religion, ethnicity or any other “protected characteristics”. The committee though highlighted other instances of racial discrimination. Their “Prime” delivery services to Boston excluded Roxbury which is predominantly black. After being questioned over this Amazon changed course after public disquiet. The committee has requested Amazon confirm it’s reasons behind the revised background check policy. The Lawyers Committee plans to take legal action subject to Amazon’s responses to it’s concerns.

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