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Attorney General James Stops Discriminatory Hiring Practices at DoorDash

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today announced a settlement with online food delivery platform DoorDash for routinely rejecting delivery worker applicants with criminal histories without fair assessment, in violation of state human rights and corrections laws and the New York City Fair Chance Act. Under state human rights law and corrections law, it is illegal to discriminate against job applicants because of a previous conviction. In New York City, the Fair Chance Act requires that employers assess job applicants on their merits and qualifications, and that potential criminal history cannot be taken into consideration until after a job offer is made. In a one-year period, DoorDash rejected approximately 3,000 New York applicants for delivery worker roles based on their criminal history, without considering the age of the applicant when the offense was committed, the time that had elapsed since the offense, or any efforts at rehabilitation. DoorDash failed to provide those applicants with an explanation of their rights as required by law, instead issuing blanket rejections to all of the applicants.

DoorDash has agreed to reevaluate the hiring determinations for applicants rejected because of their criminal history, revise its hiring policies and training to ensure application reviewers are making fair and individualized decisions, and update notices provided to applicants informing them of their rights under the Fair Chance Act. DoorDash will also pay a $75,000 penalty, which will be distributed to qualifying applicants who were rejected.

“The law is very clear on the rights that all New Yorkers, including those with criminal histories, have when it comes to pursuing job opportunities,” said Attorney General James. “DoorDash ignored New York laws, discriminated against hardworking people, and denied thousands of New Yorkers the opportunity to provide for their families without fair consideration for their individual histories. People deserve a second chance and the ability to earn a living and succeed.”

In December 2021, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) received complaints alleging that DoorDash was routinely rejecting prospective delivery workers and citing their criminal history as the reason without explanation. The ensuing investigation revealed that from January to December 2022, DoorDash rejected 2,898 applicants for delivery worker roles because of their criminal history. The rejection decisions were made without considering the nature of the applicants’ prior conviction, the age of the applicant at the time of the offense, how long it had been since the offense, or any evidence of rehabilitation. 

In some cases, applicants with prior traffic violations who applied for walking or biking positions that did not involve driving were nonetheless denied. In others, applicants were not provided an opportunity to explain the circumstances of their cases or efforts toward rehabilitation, such as continuing education, steady work, or a clean record. An OAG review of a sampling of appealed cases revealed instances where the applicant appeared to be unfairly rejected based on a conviction that had no bearing on the position sought.

DoorDash also failed to provide the rejected applicants with appropriate notice of their right to respond to the decision, submit additional information, or to receive a copy of their individual hiring determination. Instead, DoorDash provided all rejected applicants with the same explanation, which was often inapplicable to their individual cases. Of the 2,898 applicants who were rejected, 57 submitted appeals, but DoorDash did not reverse any of those rejections.

It is illegal in New York to discriminate against a candidate for a job because of their criminal history. Under New York state human rights law and corrections law, it is illegal to discriminate against a job applicant based on prior convictions. In 2015, New York City enacted the Fair Chance Act, which prohibited employers from rejecting job applicants based on the applicant’s criminal history—unless the prior criminal act would somehow prevent them from performing their job responsibilities or hiring the applicant would create an unreasonable risk. Under the Fair Chance Act, employers are required to provide the applicant with an explanation of the analysis of the applicant’s qualification for the role, along with a copy of the applicant’s criminal background check. Applicants must also be given an opportunity to respond to a rejection based on their criminal history to address the employer’s concerns.

Under the agreement, DoorDash will pay a $75,000 penalty, which will be distributed to applicants who were rejected and should not have been. Moving forward, applicants who are rejected because of their criminal history will receive notifications of their rights under the Fair Chance Act where applicable, including guidance to help applicants determine what sort of information they can send in order to support their application, such as evidence of schooling, job training or counseling, or community involvement, as well as character references.

DoorDash will also update its hiring polices to ensure applicants are not discriminated against for their past. These updated policies will be included in a new training program, developed by DoorDash and approved by OAG, for staffers who will be reviewing applications. Within three months after the completion of the new training program, DoorDash will review and reconsider all 2,898 applicants who were rejected, with priority given to the 57 applicants who had submitted appeals. 

Once all applications have been reviewed, DoorDash will provide OAG with the number of applicants who were ultimately accepted, as well as records supporting the confirmed rejection of any applicants. DoorDash will continue to provide reports on its compliance with the updated hiring policies to OAG for a period of three years.

"The kind of discrimination which prompted this settlement is exactly why I pushed to pass the Fair Chance Act and Ban the Box in New York City,” said New York City Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams. “New Yorkers have the right to fair assessment when searching for employment, not be shut out  because of past arrest records or criminal history. That is illegal, immoral and unfair to those seeking employment -- and  disproportionately impacts people of more color. The settlement today shows the significance of this bill when it is practiced, and how it can affect lives by offering a fair chance, often a first real chance. I thank Attorney General James, who supported this bill's passage, for enforcing it through today's landmark action."

“The simple existence of one’s criminal record should not be an eternal determinant as to their employability, as well as their ability to provide for their families,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Jr. “Thank you to Attorney General James for pushing back against companies that exhibit blanket discrimination against hard-working residents with criminal records and for ensuring even more of our neighbors can experience upward mobility.”

“Giving job applicants with a conviction history—regardless of the offense—a fair chance at a job, without being summarily rejected, is the kind of fairness New York needs,” said New York City Council Member Gale A. Brewer, original sponsor of the Fair Chance Act. “I applaud Attorney General James for bringing this action against DoorDash and opening the door to fairness in their hiring practices.”

"When companies discriminate against individuals with records, those companies do harm—not only to the individual—but to the over-scrutinized communities from which these individuals come,” said Shomari Ward, Esq., Litigation Director at Youth Represent. “We applaud Attorney General Letitia James in recognizing this, and for holding companies that hire through this prejudicial lense accountable.”

“People with criminal records have the right to work and maintain financial stability under New York State and New York City’s employment discrimination laws, but employers frequently violate these laws,” said Melissa Ader, Supervising Attorney of the Legal Aid Society’s Worker Justice Project. “We commend Attorney General James for putting corporations on notice that there will be serious consequences for unlawfully denying employment to workers with criminal records.”

This matter was handled by Senior Counsel Sandra Pullman of the Civil Rights Bureau and Attorney General Fellow Yomidalys Güichardo of the Westchester Regional Office under the supervision of Civil Rights Bureau Chief Sandra Park and Deputy Bureau Chief Travis England. The Civil Rights Bureau is part of the Division for Social Justice, which is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General Meghan Faux and overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy. 

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