Safe Hiring Expert Submits Public Comments to US Commission on Civil Rights about Criminal Background Checks

A letter of public comment was recently submitted by Attorney and safe hiring expert Lester Rosen, Founder and CEO of Employment Screening Resources (ESR), to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR). The comments by Rosen supplemented views stated by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) at a December 7, 2012 briefing on the impact of criminal background checks and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) conviction records policy on employment of black and Hispanic workers. To read the entire letter, visit http://www.esrcheck.com/Lester-Rosen-Public-Comments-to-USCCR.php.

Rosen writes that Employment Screening Resources supports EEOC efforts to stop discrimination: As a professional background screener, I fully embrace the EEOC objective of ensuring that ex-offenders are not the subject of unfair treatment. In my career, this is not an abstract concept but a goal that involves large numbers of people I have known and worked with closely and personally. America is a country of second chances, and if a person has committed a crime and done the time, he or she needs a job in order to become a law abiding and a tax-paying citizen. As a society, we cannot afford to build more prisons than schools or hospitals.

Rosen adds that his firm “has endorsed and conducted employer education nationwide on a number of best practices to ensure fairness in the use of criminal records and EEOC compliance,” including:

  • Eliminating any mention of criminal records in a job announcement,
  • The use of the “ban the box” approach on employment applications by private employers,
  • Delaying any questions about past criminal records until at or after an interview,
  • Limiting any inquiry on criminal questions so it does not elicit information that is old or irrelevant,
  • The use of a targeted screen in analyzing the relevancy of a criminal record, and
  • The use of an individualized assessment approach suggested in the 2012 EEOC Guidance as well as the consideration of other factors.

In his letter to the USCCR, Rosen – author of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ and chairperson of the committee that founded the NAPBS – states that he brings “a unique perspective on the issue of the use of criminal records and employment.” Before entering the background screening industry, Rosen retired from a career as a criminal trial attorney. He spent nearly 20 years practicing criminal law, the majority of the time as a criminal defense lawyer, and approximately four years as a deputy District Attorney. For several he was recognized by the State Bar of California as a certified specialist in criminal law. He has also qualified and testified as an expert witness on safe hiring in three states.

Rosen writes that the has worked with accused offenders: In my capacity as a defense attorney, I have represented a large number of people accused of criminal acts, ranging from misdemeanors such as driving under the influence and petty theft all the way to homicide, serious sexual assaults, child molestation, and crimes of violence. My jury trials have also included complex federal drug cases, sex crimes, murder and death penalty cases, and a wide variety of other cases associated with a criminal practice.  I have had the opportunity to work with numerous accused offenders and their families very closely and often assisted ex-offenders in gaining employment as part of an effort to present the best case at sentencing. I have also worked closely with crime victims and their families and have witnessed firsthand the lifetime devastation that can result from being a victim of a criminal act.

Rosen hopes the USCCR and the EEOC recognizes that the need to promote fairness and equality in hiring must also be appropriately balanced with an equally compelling need to protect innocent people from harm. He hopes agencies involved in issues concerning criminal records and hiring will take a broad and balanced approach to these issues in two significant ways:

  • 1. It is important to recognize that although the prevention of unfair discrimination is vitally important to our society, there is also an equally compelling need to protect innocent people from harm, and to enable employers to operate profitable businesses with safe, honest, and qualified employees.
  • 2. It is important to recognize that the background screening industry is an indispensable partner in the effort to educate employers about compliance with Title VII and the EEOC Guidance. In fact, the screening industry has been and will continue to be the primary means by which American employers have become educated on the EEOC approach to criminal records, given that screening firms touch the vast majority of American employers.  

Rosen believes the background screening industry is the primary source of information to employers in the United States for current rules concerning the need for a “business justification” to utilize a criminal record since they have direct contact with a large percentage of employers, and particularly those who are engaged in hiring decisions. The industry “has been proactively engaged in educating employers about the fact that past criminal records cannot be the basis to automatically deny employment.”

Rosen suggests an effective strategy on the part of the EEOC to raise awareness of employers would be to partner with the background screening industry since screening firms are in contact constantly with individuals that are actually making the employment decisions: In the role of providing professional services to employers, screening firms also educate businesses about the proper uses and limitations of information provided.  By partnering with the screening industry to promote education and awareness, the goal of the fair and non-discriminatory use of data can be advanced substantially.

Rosen has also written a widely distributed article titled ‘Criminal Records and Getting Back into the Workforce: Six Critical Steps for Ex-Offenders Trying to Get Back into the Workforce.’ The article is available at http://www.esrcheck.com/articles/Criminal-Records-and-Getting-Back-into-the-Workforce.php.

For information about background checks, visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – ‘The Background Check Authority’ and nationwide background screening firm accredited by the NAPBS – at http://www.esrcheck.com/ or call Toll Free 888.999.4474.

About Employment Screening Resources (ESR):

Founded by safe hiring expert Attorney Les Rosen in 1997, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – ‘The Background Check AuthoritySM’– provides accurate and actionable information that empowers employers to make informed hiring decisions for the benefit of their organizations, employees, and the public. CEO Rosen literally wrote the book on background checks with “The Safe Hiring Manual” and ESR is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), a distinction held by a small percent of screening firms. Employers choosing ESR know they have selected an agency meeting the highest industry standards. To learn more about ESR, visit http://www.esrcheck.com or call toll free 888.999.4474.

About ESR News:

The Employment Screening Resources (ESR) News blog – ESR News – provides employment screening information for employers, recruiters, and jobseekers on a variety of topics including credit reports, criminal records, data privacy, discrimination, E-Verify, jobs reports, legal updates, negligent hiring, workplace violence, and use of search engines and social network sites for background checks. For more information about ESR News or to send comments or questions, please email ESR News Editor Thomas Ahearn at tahearn@esrcheck.com. To subscribe to the ESR News Blog Feed, visit http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/feed/. To subscribe to the complimentary ESRcheck Report monthly newsletter, please visit http://www.esrcheck.com/Newsletter/.

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