The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Tuesday sued The Washington Post Co.’s Kaplan Higher Education unit, alleging that it discriminated against black job applicants by refusing to hire people based on their credit histories, reports the Washington Post. The federal lawsuit alleges that Kaplan needlessly evaluated the credit histories of potential hires in a way that had a disparate negative impact on black job applicants. The commission said the practice has been in place since at least January 2008. Although considering credit histories is not illegal, the commission asserts that the practice violates civil rights laws when it has the effect of discriminating on the basis of race and is not justified by the needs of the business. Kaplan is an equal opportunity employer that conducts background checks on all potential employees, spokeswoman Michele Pore said, including credit histories for job applicants whose responsibilities touch on financial matters such as advising students on financial aid.

“This is not unusual,” she said, adding that surveys show that many employers consult credit reports in making personnel decisions.

Pore said Kaplan would not acknowledge a violation of civil rights law and would not comment further. The EEOC said it is seeking to stop the practice and win wages, benefits and offers of employment for people who were not hired by Kaplan because of the alleged wrongdoing. The commission said it tried to reach a settlement with Kaplan before filing suit…

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