Hearing Examines EEOC Guidance for Criminal Records

Written By Thomas Ahearn

ESR News Blogs about EEOCOn June 10, 2014, a House Committee on Education and the Workforce Subcommittee held a hearing – “The Regulatory and Enforcement Priorities of the EEOC: Examining the Concerns of Stakeholders” – that examined worries over U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Guidance that discourages employers from conducting criminal background checks on job applicants. An archived webcast of the EEOC hearing is available at: http://edworkforcehouse.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?clip_id=263.

At a hearing of the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, the panel chairman, Representative Tim Walberg (R-MI), said the EEOC “Enforcement Guidance on the Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964” approved on April 25, 2012 “has made it more difficult for employers to ensure the safety of their customers and co-workers.” The EEOC Guidance is available online at: http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/guidance/arrest_conviction.cfm.

The hearing provided an opportunity for oversight of the EEOC, the agency enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. The witness list included: Lucia Bone, Founder, The Sue Weaver C.A.U.S.E.; Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.; Todd McCracken, President National Small Business Association; and Camille A. Olson, Partner, Seyfarth Shaw LLP. For more information about the hearing on the EEOC, visit: http://edworkforce.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=383368.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination, including the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. In 2013, Commission Chair Jacqueline Berrien testified before the subcommittee on EEOC policy priorities. Members shared concerns with EEOC Guidance that limits the use of criminal background checks by employers during the hiring process. The subcommittee also examined increasing EEOC reliance on cases alleging systemic, and not individual, discrimination.

Concurrent with the hearing, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a white paper that provides an overview of the enforcement and litigation strategies of the EEOC during the Obama Administration. The white paper examines “unreasonable enforcement efforts of the EEOC” and legal interpretations that were “rejected by federal courts approximately 80% of the time.” The white paper is available here: “Review of Enforcement and Litigation Strategy during the Obama Administration—A Misuse of Authority.”

Attorney Lester Rosen, Founder and CEO of Employment Screening Resources® (ESR), has written a whitepaper titled “Practical Steps Employers Can Take to Comply with New EEOC Criminal Record Guidance” to help employers understand how to use criminal records when hiring. The complimentary whitepaper is available at: http://www.esrcheck.com/Stay-Updated/Download/. For more information about ESR, visit http://www.esrcheck.com, call 888.999.4474, or email sales@esrcheck.com.

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