Getting rid of collateral penalties for criminals

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is informing employers that they cannot refuse to hire job applicants with criminal backgrounds based solely on those past crimes.

A blanket refusal to hire workers based on criminal records or credit problems can be illegal if it has a disparate impact on racial minorities, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The agency enforces the nation’s employment discrimination laws.

"Our sense is that the problem is snowballing because of the technology allowing these checks to be done with a fair amount of ease," said Carol Miaskoff, assistant legal counsel at the EEOC.

With millions of adult Americans having criminal records, from underage drinking to homicide, increasingly more job seekers are having a rough time finding work. And more companies are trying to screen out people with bankruptcies, court judgments or other credit problems just as those numbers have swollen during the recession. . . .

If criminal histories are taken into account, the EEOC says employers must also consider the nature of the job, the seriousness of the offense and how long ago it occurred. For example, it may make sense to disqualify a bank employee with a past conviction for embezzlement, but not necessarily for drunken driving.

Most companies tend to be more nuanced when they look at credit reports, weeding out those applicants with bad credit only if they seek senior positions or jobs dealing with money. But if the screening process weeds out more black and Hispanic applicants than whites, an employer needs to show how the credit information is related to the job.

About 73 percent of major employers report that they always check on applicants’ criminal records, while 19 percent do so for select job candidates, according to a 2010 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management. . . .

This is part of a larger process to reduce the penalties for criminals.

Former felons and their advocates are becoming increasingly assertive in the national debate about crime, claiming that they are being discriminated against not just in matters of voting but also employment and housing.

A movement called "Ban the Box" is urging lawmakers in the District of Columbia and elsewhere to limit or bar the "have you ever been convicted of a crime" question so that ex-felons' applications for jobs, housing and the like aren't rejected out of hand. They point out that "the box" makes it difficult for even well-intentioned ex-criminals to re-establish and integrate themselves into the social mainstream. . . .



Blogger FavaBeansNiceChianti said...

EEOC wants to make sure that Rod Blago, Tony Rezko, ACORN leadership and other assorted cronies of the president can get jobs after they serve their debts to society.

8/19/2010 1:30 AM  
Blogger Crimefile said...

As a licensed PI, I do background investigations for several employers. Most reject all theft related, hard drug or minor weapons possession or carrying charges.

I've had employers ask me if I can find out if applicants own guns. That's another reason to keep gun permits from being classified as public records. Many corporation HR departments discriminate against a law-abiding gun owners.

I'm glad I'm self-employed!

8/19/2010 4:41 PM  
Blogger Chas said...

"A blanket refusal to hire workers based on criminal records or credit problems can be illegal if it has a disparate impact on racial minorities..."

I don't think that will happen. Asians are pretty well behaved. Oh, that's right . . . we're not talking about the well behaved minorities, are we?

8/19/2010 6:56 PM  
Blogger Raven Lunatic said...

While I completely understand the desire to not have people who're likely to commit crimes in your employ, isn't the idea behind releasing someone after they've paid their debt to society that, well, the debt's been paid?

If you're going to keep people who've been convicted separate from mainstream society, regardless as to how much they've reformed themselves, at least do it ethically and leave them in prison where we give them room and board.

8/20/2010 2:48 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home