Lawsuit Filed Against Sheetz Convenience Store Chain for Discrimination

HARRISBURG — AP is reporting… The Sheetz convenience store chain has been hit with a lawsuit by federal officials who allege the company discriminated against minority job applicants.

Sheetz Inc., which operates more than 700 stores in six states, discriminated against Black, Native American and multiracial job seekers by automatically weeding out applicants whom the company deemed to have failed a criminal background check, according to U.S. officials.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed suit in Baltimore against Altoona- based Sheetz and two subsidiary companies, alleging the chain’s longstanding hiring practices have a disproportionate impact on minority applicants and thus run afoul of federal civil rights law.

Sheetz said Thursday it “does not tolerate discrimination of any kind.”

“Diversity and inclusion are essential parts of who we are. We take these allegations seriously. We have attempted to work with the EEOC for nearly eight years to find common ground and resolve this dispute,” company spokesperson Nick Ruffner said in a statement.

The privately held, family run company has more than 23,000 employees. It operates convenience stores and gas stations in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Ohio and North Carolina.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court Wednesday, the day President Joe Biden stopped at a Sheetz market in Moon Township during a campaign swing, buying snacks, posing for photos and chatting up patrons and employees.

Federal officials said they do not allege Sheetz was motivated by racial animus, but take issue with the way the chain uses criminal background checks to screen job seekers. The company was sued under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion and national origin.

“Federal law mandates that employment practices causing a disparate impact because of race or other protected classifications must be shown by the employer to be necessary to ensure the safe and efficient performance of the particular jobs at issue,” EEOC attorney Debra M. Lawrence said in a statement.

“Even when such necessity is proven, the practice remains unlawful if there is an alternative practice available that is comparably effective in achieving the employer’s goals but causes less discriminatory effect,” Lawrence said.

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