The Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, was hit on Friday with a proposed class action lawsuit alleging that it uses a discriminatory criminal history screening policy that denies jobs to potential workers who are otherwise qualified applicants.
Felipe Kelly filed a complaint in New York federal court against Barclays Center, Levy Premium Foodservice Limited Partnership and Levy’s subsidiary Professional Sports Catering LLC, saying that he was qualified for a job he sought with the companies, but his conditional employment offer was taken away based on criminal history revealed by a background check. He brought the case on behalf of a proposed classes of other people similarly situated under the New York City Human Rights Law, the New York State Correction Law, the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the New York State Fair Credit Reporting Act.
"As a matter of basic fairness, federal and New York state laws require that job applicants with criminal histories be provided with the same criminal history information relied on by the prospective employer so that they might evaluate that information, ensure it is accurate, and even if it is accurate explain why they nonetheless are qualified for employment,” Christopher M. McNerney, one of Kelly’s attorneys, said in a statement. “This legal framework is an essential aspect of reentering society for individuals with criminal records.”
Kelly, who is black and Latino, said the companies didn’t provide him with the information they used to deny him employment based on his criminal record, such as a copy of his background check, and that they never asked him about the circumstances of his criminal history or if the background check was accurate.
The Barclays Center is a Brooklyn-based indoor sports arena that currently houses the Brooklyn Nets basketball team and the New York Islanders hockey team.
In August 2016, Kelly applied for a job at a restaurant operated by Levy and/or Professional Sports Catering at the Barclays Center, he said, and after an interview he was told he would be hired if he passed a drug test and a background check. After passing a drug test, Kelly received a background check form, which he eventually turned in, according to the complaint.
After this, he did not hear back about the position until he called Barclays in September, at which time he was told he was denied employment because of a criminal history, which was not enumerated in the complaint.
“Levy and all of our partners, including Barclays Center, are committed to fairness in all of our employment practices, and we abide by state, federal and local laws throughout the process of hiring of our team members,” Levy and Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, which manages and controls the Barclays Center, said in a statement. “The Kelly matter is pending litigation, and we do not provide comment specific to such matters.”
Kelly is represented by Ossai Miazad, Lewis M. Steel and Christopher M. McNerney of Outten & Golden LLP, and Michael C. Pope and Eric Eingold of Youth Represent.
Counsel information for the defendants was not immediately available on Monday.
The case is Kelly v. Brooklyn Events Center LLC d/b/a Barclays Center el al., case number 1:17-cv-04600, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
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