Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn
Several construction workers hired to help build a new campus in Cupertino, California for tech giant Apple were let go from their jobs in January because of prior felony criminal convictions, according to a report from The San Francisco Chronicle. (UPDATE: An Apple spokesman told the San Jose Mercury News the company has lifted the requirement that people convicted of felonies in the past seven years could not work on the Cupertino construction project. Read the full story at ‘Apple rescinds policy against hiring felons for construction work’.)
Documents from construction companies acquired by the newspaper indicated that a job seeker with a felony conviction or facing felony charges looking for work on the new Apple campus “does not meet owner standards,” The Chronicle reports.
The ban by Apple on construction workers with criminal records is unusual for the construction industry, according to The Chronicle, where employers typically do not perform criminal background checks.
The Chronicle reports that two union officials wrote letters asking for a change to the policy of barring ex-felons from construction work on the Apple campus to Apple CEO Tim Cook and state Attorney General Kamala Harris.
The two union officials – Michael Theriault, president of Iron Workers Local Union 377, and union business manager Dennis Meakin – have not received a direct response from either Cook or Harris, The Chronicle reports.
“Apple’s prohibition against employment of former felons or those with a pending felony charge does not just fail to address inequality, then, but amplifies it,” Theriault and Meakin wrote in the letters, according to The Chronicle.
The Chronicle reports that Apple declined to comment or confirm that it bars ex-felons from jobs. The story is available at http://www.sfgate.com/business/article/Felons-barred-from-constructing-Apple-s-campus-6178429.php.
“A complete prohibition regardless of the nature or gravity of the offense or the age of the past crime does seem to be out of step with the national trend of providing ex-offenders an individualized assessment of their situation,” says Attorney Lester Rosen.
Rosen is the founder and CEO of Employment Screening Resources (ESR), a nationwide background check firm located in the San Francisco, CA-area that is accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS).
“For example, the previous offense could have no relationship to an employer’s security concerns, be relatively minor, and the person may have demonstrated rehabilitation,” says Rosen, author of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual,’ a guide for background checks.
The trend Rosen refers to is caused by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Enforcement Guidance on the Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
On April 25, 2012, the EEOC – the agency that enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination – approved the updated Enforcement Guidance that is available at http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/guidance/arrest_conviction.cfm.
The EEOC Guidance offers more complex and stringent guidelines for the use of criminal records of jobs applicants for employment decisions. Rosen says the EEOC Guidance has impacted how employers hire and screening firms perform background checks.
Another growing trend is the “Ban the Box” movement that seeks to remove the box on job applications that applicants are asked to check if they have a criminal record. Ban the Box would delay the criminal history question until later in the hiring process.
According to research by the National Employment Law Project (NELP), more than 100 cities and counties have adopted Ban the Box policies. These cities include Atlanta, GA; Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; New York, NY; San Francisco, CA; and Washington, D.C.
In addition, fifteen states have adopted some form of Ban the Box policy: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Virginia.
A 2011 study by NELP titled “65 Million Need Not Apply” found that nearly 65 million people in the U.S. – more than one in four adults – were estimated to have criminal records. NELP has since revised that number up to approximately 70 million adults.
More Ban the Box Information from ESR
Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – ‘The Background Check Authority®’ – offers Ban the Box Information Page with links to the latest news and resources about the Ban the Box movement. The page is at http://www.esrcheck.com/Ban-the-Box/.
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