Republicans on a House Education and Workforce subcommittee criticized the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for the EEOC’s relentless attack on employers they feel are using background checks to discriminate against job applicants. At an oversight hearing on June 10, panel chairman Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) said that the EEOC’s guidance on employers’ use of arrest or conviction records issued in 2012 “has made it more difficult for employers to ensure the safety of their customers and co-workers.”

During the subcommittee meeting other witnesses were afforded the opportunity to express their concern, like Lucia Bone who founded C.A.U.S.E. (Consumer Awareness of Unsafe Service Employment). Her sister Sue Weaver was brutally raped and murdered in 2001 by a two-time convicted sex offender who had worked in Weaver’s home for a duct-cleaning subcontractor. Bone argued that if a background checks was conducted by the contactor, her sister’s unfortunate incident could have been avoided.

Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), the full committee chair explained how the EEOC’s overreach is a potential “job killer” due to the fact that small employers in particular would rather not hire someone then have to deal with the hurdles created by the EEOC guidance. Rep. Kline went on to say that “The guidance could have the perverse effect of erecting an employment barrier against the very workers the EEOC intended to protect”.

In defense of the EEOC, the EEOC didn’t have any representation at the subcommittee meeting, which caught the eye of Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) the subcommittee ranking minority. He stated that “you don’t have the agency here to answer the criticism leveled by the Republican House members and employer witnesses.” Courtney did submit for the record a response submitted by David Lopez (EEOC General Counsel), in which Lopez emphasized the EEOC litigates only a minuscule percentage of the charges on which it finds reasonable cause and federal courts are split regarding judicial review of pre-suit conciliation and where the EEOC is making adequate settlement efforts before filing suit.” Lopez did admit that “this avalanche of litigation” is false; however, it’s no secret that the EEOC’s tactics are sometimes criticized.

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