Workforce Advocacy Center, Inc. is a not-for-profit corporation chartered and dedicated to eliminating discrimination in employment, education, and housing against social and cultural minorities including persons with arrest and conviction records, LGBT individuals, and atheists, agnostics and followers of non-traditional religions. We work to ensure that people are evaluated by their qualifications and not subjected to senseless bigotry.
WAC engages in public advocacy and outreach to increase public awareness of state and federal laws and regulations prohibiting unfair discrimination. WAC also works with employers and government agencies to help them develop and implement anti-discrimination policies; and conducts original scholarly research into the scope, scale, and effects of discrimination against social and cultural minorities. We are rapidly expanding and seeking members and supporters from the public and other advocacy groups.
Hundreds of thousands of employers and landlords use LexisNexis to conduct criminal record and other background check on applicants, employees, and potential tenants. If you have a criminal record, chances are high that one or more employers have used LexisNexis to check on your record before deciding whether to hire you. LexisNexis reports can include everything from criminal convictions to auto insurance claims to property records.
Knowing what these files contain before you submit a job or rental application is critical for people who want to be fairly and lawfully considered. As a service to our members, forms and instructions on how to get your complete LexisNexis file are available on the Workforce Advocacy Center website. The forms can be downloaded here.
Workforce Advocacy Center, Inc. has filed suit to break up a secret arrangement between Costco Wholesale Corp. and its business partners to unlawfully discriminate against persons with conviction records. The complaint accuses global wholesaler Costco Wholesale Corp., background check provider First Advantage Background Services Corp., and employment application processor Kronos, Inc. of conspiring for several years to secretly enforce a policy entitled "Costco grading criteria" that deems people convicted of felonies and misdemeanors "ineligible" for employment with Costco without considering the factors set forth in Article 23-A of the NY Correction Law. According to the complaint, thousands of applicants with convictions on the "ineligible" list have been systematically barred from employment in violation of state law while being actively misled into believing they were receiving fair consideration. The complaint also alleges that the overwhelming majority of applicants who have been unlawfully denied are men and racial minorities.
The complaint seeks damages, an Order requiring Costco to locate and contact the thousands of applicants it has unlawfully discriminated against and lawfully consider them for employment, and an Order requiring Costco to design and implement an affirmative action program to increase the recruitment and hire of applicants with conviction records. As the case moves forward, Workforce Advocacy Center expects to file additional complaints against the companies with the EEOC and with state anti-discrimination agencies in other states.
A copy of the complaint is available here. Anyone with a conviction record who has applied for employment with Costco since 2007 should submit a legal assistance request to Workforce Advocacy Center immediately, as they may be entitled to damages from Costco and other relief.
On Monday, January 28, 2013 the City of Oswego, NY voted to repeal City of Oswego Local Law 2 of the Year 2012, which banned anyone with a felony less than ten years old from receiving a taxi driver license. WAC had opposed Local Law 2 before it was passed and filed a lawsuit to challenge it shortly after. The changes made last Monday night provide everything that WAC's lawsuit asked for.
On Tuesday, January 29, 2013 NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued a press release about the change, strongly supporting WAC's position in the suit. Local Law 2 "conflicted with state laws that require licensing agencies to consider several factors before disqualifying an individual based on his or her criminal record, including the nature and gravity of the conviction, its relation to the duties of the job sought, the amount of time which has passed since the conviction, the age of the applicant when the offense was committed, and any evidence of rehabilitation. In addition, Local Law No. 2 included other provisions that conflict with New York state laws which prohibit employers and licensing agencies from considering arrests that were terminated in favor of the individual or resulted in a sealed conviction or youthful offender adjudication." Schneiderman also clearly stated that his office "is committed to addressing barriers to reentry and ensuring that all New Yorkers have equal access to employment opportunities." WAC greatly appreciates the public support by the Attorney General.
As part of its ongoing mission to eradicate discrimination against re-entrants, WAC is conducting a review of municipal codes statewide for violations of state and federal anti-discrimination laws. Any violations will be brought directly to the attention of the relevant local officials with a clear deadline to voluntarily amend the codes. In light of Attorney General Schneiderman's clear expression of intent to enforce state laws protecting re-entrants from discrimination, WAC is hopeful that time-consuming and expensive litigation will not be necessary to change codes found to be in violation. Nevertheless, if it is, WAC stands ready as always to stand up to senseless bigotry.