Suit Alleges Stringent Background Checks
The Associated Press reports a class-action lawsuit filed Thursday contends that recently expanded background checks for child care workers in Massachusetts go too far and discriminate against people of color.
The lawsuit, filed in Suffolk Superior Court against the state Department of Early Education by the organization Lawyers for Civil Rights and a Boston based law firm was filed on behalf of a longtime day care employee who was banned from her profession because of a decades-old juvenile conviction.
It states that Tara Gregory and others are being unlawfully disqualified for life from working in child care facilities as a result of "overly stringent" background check requirements, without any recourse or right to appeal.
Gregory worked for 20 years at a day care in Boston's Hyde Park neighborhood, driving and caring for hundreds of young children during that period. She had cleared background checks in the past and had an exemplary work record, according to the lawsuit.
In April, Gregory received a letter from the department stating that she had a "mandatory disqualifying background" and would have to leave her job within two weeks.
In addition to denying the right to due process for Gregory, who is black, her lawyers also contend that the recent changes in background check requirements violate the state's anti-discrimination laws and equal protection guarantees under the Massachusetts Constitution.
Because of historical racial disparities in the prosecution of juveniles, the new regulations have a disproportionate impact on people of color, the lawyers said.
In response to a request for comment on the lawsuit, a spokeswoman said the department does not comment on pending litigation.