Officials with BMW have now responded to the racial discrimination lawsuit against them.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed the lawsuit against the BMW plant in Greer on Tuesday, accusing the company of discriminating against black workers by using a strict criminal background check policy.
GSA Business reports that BMW is now defending the way it conducts criminal background checks. An email from a company spokesman said one of BMW’s highest priorities is to provide the safest work environment possible for their employees.
“We have a strong culture of nondiscrimination as evidenced by the company’s highly diverse workforce,” spokesman Steve Wilson said in the statement. “The BMW plant in South Carolina employs thousands of people, and providing a safe work environment is one of the company’s highest priorities.”
He declined to comment further.
The federal suit stems from BMW’s transition away from hiring workers through a contractor who used a criminal conviction policy of seven years. Once those employees switched to BMW in 2008, the company applied its own background check standards. BMW’s policy has no time limit on criminal convictions. This led to dozens of employees getting fired.
The EEOC says roughly 80 percent of those workers were African-American.
The EEOC is filing the suit under 2012 guidelines that try to “remove barriers” for convicted offenders who have completed their sentence to return to work. The commission says it sued after failing to reach a settlement with BMW. The suit seeks back pay and “injunctive relief to prevent future discrimination.”