Freeman Wins EEOC Discrimination Lawsuit

Fri Aug 9, 2013 2:15pm EDT

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Freeman Wins EEOC Discrimination Lawsuit

Freeman, the leading global partner for integrated marketing solutions for live engagements, is pleased to announce that today, Judge Roger Titus of the U.S. District Court of Maryland granted Freeman’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed the case of EEOC v. Freeman.

“On behalf of all of our employee-owners, we feel vindicated,” said Joe Popolo, Freeman CEO. “We made the decision early on to fight this case because we felt strongly that the EEOC had overstepped its bounds. We have a very diverse workforce and as such, discrimination laws are extremely important to us and our employees, but twisting them to deny a business the right to make sure its employees and customers are safe from potential criminal or fraudulent acts goes beyond all reason.”

In 2009, the EEOC filed a nationwide hiring discrimination lawsuit against Freeman based on the company’s use of job applicants’ credit histories and criminal convictions. The EEOC claimed that those practices had a disparate impact on African-American, Hispanic and male job applicants.

Pamela Wills-Ward, Senior Vice President, Human Resources for Freeman, was pleased by the ruling and believes Judge Titus said it all in his opinion when he held that “by bringing this action of this nature, the EEOC has placed many employers in the ‘Hobson’s choice’ of ignoring criminal history and credit background, thus exposing themselves to potential liability for criminal and fraudulent acts committed by employees, on the one hand, or incurring the wrath of the EEOC for having utilized information deemed fundamental by most employers.” Judge Titus, in his opinion, went on to say that “something more, far more than what is relied upon by the EEOC in this case must be utilized to justify a disparate impact claim based upon criminal history and credit checks. To require less would be to condemn the use of common sense, and this is simply not what the discrimination laws of this country require.”

Freeman has always maintained that its careful and appropriate practice of using criminal and credit background checks is fair and consistent with business necessity. Ironically, the EEOC itself conducts criminal record checks as a condition of employment for all its employees and conducts credit checks for approximately 90 percent of its positions.

“This case has far-reaching implications for employers across the country that have been under the EEOC’s scrutiny recently,” said Don Livingston with Akin Gump in Washington D.C., the lead attorney on the case for Freeman. “This is a win not only for Freeman, but for the rights of U.S. companies to utilize reasonable and rational practices to safeguard their workplaces.”


Founded in 1927, Freeman is the leading global partner for integrated experiential marketing solutions for live engagements including expositions, conventions, corporate events and exhibits. Headquartered in Dallas, with over 70 offices in North America and the UK, Freeman produces more than 4,300 expositions annually, including 135 of the 250 largest U.S. trade shows, and 11,000 other events worldwide. Customer-driven, Freeman offers a total package of solutions, with a scope of products and services unmatched by the competition. An employee-owned company, Freeman places an emphasis on respect for people and providing unparalleled customer service. Freeman has received numerous trade show industry awards for excellence in leadership, creative design, community service, innovation and customer-driven partnerships. For more information, visit

Edelman on behalf of Freeman
Ashley Wilemon, 214-443-7563