Don Livingston Discusses EEOC v. Freeman with Corporate Counsel

Fresh off a summary judgment win on behalf of Freeman Companies in a discrimination suit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Akin Gump labor and employment partner Don Livingston spoke about the case with Corporate Counsel.

Livingston, a former EEOC general counsel, discussed how he first got involved with the case, EEOC v. Freeman, in which a federal judge in Maryland ruled that Freeman, an event marketing company, did not discriminate when it used credit and criminal background checks to screen job applicants. He also noted that the case is part of a major push by the EEOC to challenge employer usage of background checks.

In discussing why companies should be permitted to use criminal and credit histories when hiring employees, Livingston pointed out “it’s an important piece of information that can help the employer determine whether the person is trustworthy.” He added that the EEOC conducts similar checks on its own job applicants.

As for whether the issue of background checks is resolved with this ruling, Livingston said it is not. EEOC v. Freeman is simply “one court’s view,” and he said that this case does not settle any issues “concerning interpretations of Title VII as they might pertain to the use of criminal history records.”