Accenture Sued For Alleged Discrimination Over Background Checks

NEW YORK — Accenture, one of the largest management consulting firms in the world, conducts background checks that discriminate against African Americans and Latinos, a class action lawsuit filed in New York federal court on April 8 alleges.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Roberto J. Arroyo of Morristown, N.J., accuses Accenture of violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by rejecting or firing qualified individuals who have criminal records even where the criminal history has no bearing on the individual's fitness or ability to perform the job.

According to the complaint, "Such policies and practices are illegal because they adopt and perpetuate the racial disparities in the American criminal justice system. . . . For decades, the Supreme Court and the EEOC have recognized that overly broad restrictions on hiring individuals with criminal records are discriminatory and illegal."

The lawsuit alleges that Arroyo worked as a contract technical support employee for Accenture for nearly a year and a half. In April 2007, the complaint alleges, Accenture offered him permanent employment subject only to the results of a background check. Accenture then withdrew its job offer and terminated Arroyo's employment as a contract worker after a background check revealed that he was convicted a decade earlier of vehicular homicide after driving while intoxicated.

Arroyo "deeply regrets the loss of life caused by his mistake, and he has succeeded in becoming a productive member of his community ever since then," the lawsuit states. Arroyo, who has a bachelor's degree in computer science from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, has excelled in his career as an information technology professional. He previously served with distinction in the U.S. Navy during Operation Desert Storm.

Attorneys Adam T. Klein, Samuel R. Miller and Ossai Miazad of Outten & Golden LLP of New York, and Audrey Wiggins and Sarah Crawford of Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law of Washington, D.C., represent Arroyo.

In November 2007, Arroyo filed a Charge of Discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). On Jan. 8, 2010, the EEOC issued a "right to sue" letter to Arroyo.
The lawsuit seeks to force changes in Accenture hiring and retention policies, practices and programs, restore Arroyo and class members to their positions at the company, front and/or back pay and benefits and litigation costs.

The case is Roberto J. Arroyo, et al., v. Accenture LLP, et al. (No. 10-cv-03013 [JSR]) in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.