Sample complaint to EEOC (Jane Doe Letter)
March 31, 2005
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Detroit District Office
477 Michigan Avenue, Room 865
Detroit, MI 48226-9704
Dear Sir or Madam,
Please accept this letter as a complaint of racial discrimination by Jane Doe, an African-American female. Please also accept this letter as an appearance by Miriam Aukerman of Western Michigan Legal Services on behalf of Ms. Doe.
On or about March 3, 2005, Ms. Doe applied for work with Big Temp Company, an agency that provides temporary employees to fill a wide range of positions, ranging from factory work to office jobs. Ms. Doe inquired about an advertised sales position, and was told to come in for an appointment. When she went in for the appointment, Ms. Doe was asked if she had clerical experience, and she answered in the affirmative. She was given an application to fill out, and was asked to show two pieces of ID. She was told that after completing the application, she would need to take a clerical skills test. After Ms. Doe handed in her completed application, the receptionist, whose name was Roxanne, began to bring over the clerical skills test. However, the receptionist then noticed that on the application, in response to a question about whether she had ever been convicted of a felony, Ms. Doe had marked "yes." In the section asking for further information in the event of a felony record, Ms. Doe had written something to the effect of "will explain in interview." The receptionist then told Ms. Doe that Big Temp Company would not hire her because she had a criminal record. Ms. Doe asked if she could get that in writing. Another individual, who was sitting further back and who subsequently gave her name as Sandy Smith, said "no." Ms. Doe asked to speak to a supervisor. Ms. Smith said that she did not have a supervisor. Ms. Doe asked for the number of the corporate office. Ms. Smith refused to give out that information. Ms. Smith said that she was a vice president, but refused to give out the name of the president. She added that "If I was you, I would just get my stuff and leave." After Ms. Doe indicated that she thought Big Temp Company was acting illegally, Ms. Smith stated that since Ms. Doe did not have a job, she would be unable to hire an attorney.
In support of Ms. Doe's account, please find the enclosed letter from Willard Konyndyk, a Placement Consultant for the Parolee Employment Program of Hope Network West Michigan. Mr. Konyndyk states that in his experience, Big Temp Company refuses to hire anyone with a felony record regardless of the type of offense or the age of the offense. The jobs in question typically involve light industrial and warehouse employment which only require minimal skills or work experience. In addition, please find a typical job advertisement by Big Temp Company explicitly stating that no one with felony convictions will be considered.
As you know, the EEOC has determined that employers may not have a blanket policy against employing individuals with criminal records. "[A]n employer's policy or practice of excluding individuals from employment on the basis of their conviction records has an adverse impact on Blacks and Hispanics in light of statistics showing that they are convicted at a rate disproportionately greater than their representation in the population." Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Notice No. N-915, Policy Statement on Issue of Conviction Records under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended 42 U.S.C. et. seq. (1982), at 1 (Feb. 4, 1987). Under the EEOC's interpretation, employers may avoid Title VII liability for criminal record-based employment decisions only if they demonstrate Abusiness necessity by establishing that they considered the following three factors: (1) the nature and gravity of the offense; (2) the time elapsed since the conviction or completion of sentence, and (3) the nature of the job sought. Id.
The sole basis for Big Temp Company's refusal to hire, or even accept a job application from Ms. Doe was that Ms. Doe has a criminal record. Big Temp Company cannot establish Abusiness necessity under these circumstances. First, Big Temp Company did not consider, or even inquire about, which offenses Ms. Doe had committed. Big Temp Company thus failed to consider the nature and gravity of Ms. Doe's record. Second, Big Temp Company did not consider the age of Ms. Doe's convictions. It did not know how old they were because it did not even attempt to find out when or for what she had been convicted. Finally, Big Temp Company did not consider the relevance of the convictions for the nature of the job sought, because it refused to consider Ms. Doe for any and all jobs. As a temporary agency, Big Temp Company provides a wide range of jobs in a wide range of employment situations. While it is conceivable that some of these jobs are inappropriate for certain individuals whose records are relevant to those particular jobs, Big Temp Company's refusal to hire people with felony records is not limited to certain sensitive jobs. Rather, Big Temp Company's position appears to be that it will not hire anyone with a felony record irrespective of the nature and gravity of the offenses, irrespective of the age of the convictions, and irrespective of the job sought. Because Big Temp Company failed to consider any of the required factors, Big Temp Company cannot demonstrate business necessity, and is therefore in violation of Title VII.
The contact information for Ms. Doe is: XXXXXX. The phone number is XXXX. We would ask, however, that all correspondence be directed to Miriam Aukerman, as Ms. Doe's counsel.
The contact information for Big Temp Company is: XXXX.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Jane Doe Attorney at Law
This article appears courtesy of Miriam Aukerman at Legal Aid of Western Michigan