It’s been two years since Jacqueline Ramos filed a class action lawsuit against Walmart on behalf of applicants denied employment based on the company’s criminal history screening policies. The case had been held up by questions regarding the time frame for discovery, but a federal judge in New Jersey has resolved the issue, allowing the case to move forward.

The case against Walmart accuses the nation’s largest private employer of denying employment to qualified applicants because of their criminal histories, without considering evidence of rehabilitation or any other mitigating circumstances. Ms. Ramos claims that these policies perpetrate and prolong discrimination against Black and Latinx individuals.

Ms. Ramos filed both a Title VII claim and an NJLAD claim following her own experience with the company. She was hired by Walmart’s subsidiary in 2019 as a full-time, six-month intern in entry-level IT support. That position required no prior training, higher education, or credentials: the goal of the internship was to demonstrate her suitability for a position with the parent company. Her performance was strong enough for her supervisor to encourage her to apply for an entry-level IT support position with Walmart that similarly had no prior training, higher education, or credential requirements.

In early 2020 she followed her supervisor’s recommendation and applied for the position. She had two successful interviews with Walmart supervisors and was sent an email on January 28th by Walmart’s third-party criminal history screening company. The email explained that a background check was required as part of her application process. When she completed the authorization forms, she also complied with their disclosure request and informed them of her 2017 felony conviction. Three days later she received an offer letter from the Walmart hiring team offering her the job, but on February 3rd she received another email from the screening company. That second email asked for specific details about her conviction.

In response to the second email, Ms. Ramos logged onto the screening company’s online portal and explained her conviction history, including her efforts at rehabilitation. She reported that she had been with friends who committed the crime for which she was convicted and had taken a plea deal out of fear of a long prison sentence. She also told about her efforts at getting a job, enrolling in a workforce development program, which led to her successful time with She also mentioned her plans to enroll in a bachelor’s degree program.

The next day, the screening company informed her that following the background check, Walmart was considering revoking her job offer. She immediately contacted her former supervisor at, as well as the Walmart recruiter she had worked with. Both informed her that the decision was out of her hands. A week later she was contacted by the screening company, telling her that the job had been rescinded.

After the job was rescinded, Ms. Ramos continued to try to revive the job offer. She reached out to the human resources contact at Walmart and then hired counsel to explain her conviction and reiterate her steps toward rehabilitation and mitigation. In response, she received a letter from Walmart in June saying in part that Ms. Ramos had “provided no evidence of rehabilitation efforts or mitigating circumstances.”

In filing her class action suit, Ms. Ramos is speaking for herself and countless others who she believes have been discriminated against by Walmart’s “uniform and centrally administered criminal history screening policy.” She accuses the company of using an overbroad process that is devoid of individualized analysis, allowing no input from potential supervisors or interviewers. She notes that the company’s standard operating procedure is to refuse to alter a determination that criminal history is disqualifying, regardless of evidence to the contrary.

Notably, Ms. Ramos claims that the company’s screening policy perpetuates “gross racial disparities in the criminal justice system” in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Her claim states, “It is more than plausible that by screening for criminal history, Walmart’s hiring practices import the nation’s severe racial disparities in conviction rates, resulting in a policy and practice that disproportionately screens out Black and Latinx applicants.”

Racial discrimination is illegal under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination, and discriminatory actions can take many forms. If you have been denied work or suffered another negative employment action due to your membership in a protected group, our attorneys can help. Contact us today to discuss your situation.