Pepsi Beverages Co. has agreed to a $3.1 million settlement to end federal charges of racial discrimination over its hiring practices - but this wasn't the sort of discrimination that once existed in the Jim Crow South. Pepsi was guilty of racial discrimination as defined by government bullies at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Increasingly, the EEOC has used the battering ram of discrimination, as it loosely defines it, to promote "diversity" at all cost. And no matter if this means sacrificing the concept of meritocracy (critical to free-markets and democracy) for the sake of their ideological agenda.
So what was Pepsi's sin as defined by EEOC bureaucrats and their liberal cheerleaders? Pepsi had administered the same pre-employment screening to all job applicants regardless of their race, color, or creed. Specifically, Pepsi used criminal background checks to screen job seekers -- something it presumably did to measure the content of every job applicant's character. Applicants with arrest records (though not necessarily convictions) were disqualified, and Pepsi also turned away applicants convicted of minor offenses.
The trouble was is that the background checks were, according to the EEOC, disqualifying higher numbers of blacks than whites because - well - more blacks applying to Pepsi had higher numbers of arrests! Or as the Associated Press noted in an article: the EEOC said Pepsi's discriminatory background checks "can limit job opportunities for minorities with higher arrest and conviction rates than whites."
In a statement, the EEOC was practically gloating over Pepsi's settlement:
"The EEOC's investigation revealed that more than 300 African Americans were adversely affected when Pepsi applied a criminal background check policy that disproportionately excluded black applicants from permanent employment. Under Pepsi's former policy, job applicants who had been arrested pending prosecution were not hired for a permanent job even if they had never been convicted of any offense.
"Pepsi's former policy also denied employment to applicants from employment who had been arrested or convicted of certain minor offenses. The use of arrest and conviction records to deny employment can be illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, when it is not relevant for the job, because it can limit the employment opportunities of applicants or workers based on their race or ethnicity."
Pepsi, after being dragged through the EEOC's rabbit hole, agreed to make amends with new hiring policies more sensitive to minorities. Even so, Pepsi spokesman Dave DeCecco told the AP that Pepsi's old hiring policy had been neutral, and that the EEOC had in fact not found any intentional discrimination.
"We are committed to promoting diversity and inclusion and we have been widely recognized for our efforts for decades," he was quoted as saying. To be sure, Pepsi will still look at job seekers criminal histories, but a more "individualized approach" will now be taken -- one that considers criminal histories within the context of the job being sought.
As part of the settlement, the more than 300 black applicants who were turned down for employment will get suitable job offers and split up most of the $3.1 million. Pepsi also "will provide the EEOC with regular reports on its hiring practices and offer anti-discrimination training to its hiring personnel and managers," according to the AP.
Pamela Devata, a Chicago employment lawyer, told the wire service that the EEOC has stepped up complaints about background checks over the past year. "The EEOC has taken a very aggressive enforcement posture on the use of criminal background and criminal history," she was quoted as saying.
Under the Obama administration, the EEOC's Pepsi shakedown is apparently nothing new. The AP noted that the settlement, which was announced on Wednesday, "is part of a national government crackdown on hiring policies that can hurt blacks and Hispanics."
Alice-in-Wonderland indeed. Or perhaps the better term is Obama-in-Wonderland.