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Sheetz Reaffirms Commitment to D&I Following EEOC Lawsuit

Filing claims the retailer's hiring practices result in racial discrimination.
Angela Hanson
The entrance to a Sheetz convenience store

ALTOONA, Pa. — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) accused Sheetz Inc. and affiliates of having racially discriminatory hiring practices in a lawsuit filed April 18.

According to the federal agency, the convenience store operator has maintained a longstanding practice of screening all job applicants for records of criminal conviction and then denying them employment based on those records. This disproportionately screened out Black, Native American/Alaska Native and multiracial applicants, which violated provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act that prohibit disparate impact discrimination, the lawsuit states. 

The EEOC does not allege that Sheetz was motivated by race when making hiring decisions.

[Read more: Sheetz Breaks Ground on First Michigan Store]

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"Sheetz does not tolerate discrimination of any kind. Diversity and inclusion are essential parts of who we are," Nick Ruffner, public relations manager at Sheetz, told Convenience Store News. "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. We will address the claims in court when the time comes."

Title VII prohibits facially neutral employment practices that cause a discriminatory impact because of race when those practices are not job-related and consistent with business necessity or where alternative practices with less discriminatory impact are available, stated the EEOC.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Northern Division following an attempt to reach a prelitigation settlement through the agency's conciliation process.

"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," said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence. "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."

Established in 1952 in Altoona, Sheetz is one of America's fastest-growing family-owned and -operated convenience store chains with more than 25,000 employees. The company offers competitive pay and benefits packages to all employees, including medical and dental insurance, a 401(k) retirement plan, an employee stock ownership plan, tuition reimbursement, 12 weeks paid maternity leave, flexible schedules and more.

Sheetz currently operates more than 720 stores across Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio and Maryland, with plans for expansion.

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