Here’s one we’ve not seen before. A plaintiff has initiated a class action lawsuit against Amazon and it’s background check company for illegally using California’s sex offender registry information as part of it’s employment screening process.
Plaintiff was convicted of a sexual offense in 2011, served his sentence and was working diligently to get his life back. He applied for and worked as a seasonal employee of Amazon, in it’s fulfillment center. He did a good job and was invited to apply for a permanent position but was denied after the sex offender registration information was found on California’s Megan’s Law Website. Notably, he previously passed a background check (which likely only checked criminal history going back a certain number of years).
The crux of the Plaintiff’s complaint is that under California Law, “To ensure that registered offenders are not discriminated against based on information in the website, the Megan’s Law also prohibits the use of any information disclosed in the Megan’s Law Website from being used for employment purposes. Cal. Penal Code § 290.46(j)(2)(E).” That seems to go along with the state’s argument that this information is not punishment, it’s just information, no punitive effects come of it, just like the fact that you are a Price Club membership shouldn’t bring you any negative consequences.
Well guess what? Amazon did use that information to deny the Plaintiff his job. Guess what else? That denial caused the Plaintiff lost wages, emotional distress, loss of sleep and anxiety. Wonder if the Price Club membership elicited the same emotions?
Who knows whether this case will prevail and we seriously doubt this will open a new door for registrant employment options, but kudos to the Plaintiff for going after Amazon and perhaps this may cause businesses to question the utility of using the registry as a screening criteria for employment? After all, we know the concern isn’t that these people are going to molest packages, it’s all about the stigma it will bring on the employer.
A copy of the complaint is below.
This is, of course, California-specific, and n/a to FL law. Yet.
I was hired and then “unhired” from two jobs, one with IKEA and one with a big call center than does work for AMEX and banks. Ikea said that they would only look back 5 years. the call center 7. But they found me on the Federal registry. This is nothing new. Even in California. Landlords have gotten around the housing part of the law by saying that they are not refusing to rent because of someone being on the registry, but because they have a criminal conviction or bad credit. The government fo California does not care to enforce its own inconvenient and embarrassing law. A year or two ago, I raised the idea of suing Facebook because by banning us, it denies us access to “valuable business services” or whatever the law calls the, AND Facebook’s TOS says that you must apply CALIFORNIA law if you get into a fight wit them.
How can this be? The registry is not punishment…or so we are told.
Although CA law prohibits potential employers from discriminating against a registrant solely because he or she is a registrant, there is an exception to that law which has weakened or perhaps eliminated that prohibition. The exception is “to protect a person at risk” which unfortunately several courts have interpreted to include fellow employees. I wish this plaintiff well and if he is successful, he will create new case law that I and others will be sure to use in the future.
I love seeing people fight back against such tyranny!