The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is still hard at work investigating employers they feel are violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
A recent EEOC letter explains “Excluding people from employment due to criminal records may raise issue under Title VII, especially if it disproportionately harms people of a particular race or national origin.”
Simply put the EEOC wants employers to continue to make individual assessments with applicants who have a criminal past, and eliminate any automatic exclusion from the company’s hiring policy that is based on having a criminal record.
This continued enforcement by the EEOC is in direct response to a letter sent to the EEOC from an incarcerated veteran who was concerned about gaining employment once he is released from prison. The response by the EEOC reiterated the three factors employers must look at when an applicant has a previous criminal record:
- the nature and gravity of the offense or offenses for which the applicant was convicted;
- the time that has passed since the conviction and/or completion of the sentence; and
- the nature of the job held or sought.
The letter goes on to state:
“If an employer says that you may not be hired because of your criminal record, the EEOC’s position is that you should have an opportunity to provide more facts before the employer makes a final decision. For example, information about prior, successful employment or participation in job training programs may demonstrate your knowledge, skills, and abilities, or suggest references.
Information about social support in the community or from the Veterans Administration may demonstrate that you will have the support necessary to be a reliable worker. Last, but not least, if there are errors in your criminal record, you should inform the employer. You will know about any errors if you contact law enforcement agencies and review your record before applying for jobs.”
Employers must ensure that they have a compliant background screening policy that mentions the EEOC guidance and how the company complies with Title VII. You can find the entire letter from the veteran here.