Quest settles New York case over illegal hiring practices

Quest Diagnostics ($DGX) will fork over a $70,000 fine to settle claims in New York that it pursued illegal hiring practices by automatically rejecting applicants with criminal records.

As the Observer-Dispatch reports, the charges stemmed from an initial complaint filed by a job interviewee. An investigation by the state Attorney General's office subsequently concluded the company had automatically decided not to hire potential employees found to have a criminal history, regardless of the circumstances.

In addition to the fine, Quest has agreed to adjust its employment policies, hold new employee training to reflect the change and preserve records concerning discrimination complaints and hiring decisions it makes, the story notes.

New York state law doesn't allow the practice of denying employment simply because someone has a criminal record. Employers are required to consider factors such as a job's responsibilities, how much time has elapsed since the conviction and how old the person was at the time of the offense. Employers also have to contemplate any evidence of a potential employee's rehabilitation before making a decision to hire someone.

Quest has 200 different New York locations and 42,000 employees around the world, according to the settlement announcement.

The publicity blemish comes at a bad time for Quest, which experienced a 24% drop in its 2012 fourth quarter net income. That softness continued in the fiscal 2013 first quarter, with net income from continuing operations hitting the $143.6 million mark, down from $168.5 million over the same period a year ago. Quest is pursuing an ongoing revamp, along with strategic acquisitions, in order to restore robust revenue growth.

- here's the NY AG release
- check out the Observer-Dispatch's take

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