EEOC Clarifies the Use of Criminal Background Checks in Hiring

Author: Stephen D. Hans

Queens, NY Employment Defense Attorneys

NBC News reported that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) approved by a four-to-one vote new rules for employers who use criminal background checks when screening candidates for hiring. The new guideline addresses the issue of workers who cannot obtain jobs or who lose jobs because of criminal records or arrests. It also addresses Title VII issues where protected classes receive disparate treatment.

Pepsi Beverages settled for $3.3 million in a case brought before the EEOC, according to a 2012 EEOC news release. The EEOC found Pepsi guilty of hiring discrimination against African Americans because it applied criminal background checks that disproportionately excluded African American applicants from permanent hire based on arrests ― even when they had not been convicted and an arrest was pending.

New EEOC guidelines require employers to obtain details about whether or not an applicant has a conviction, how long ago the individual served time and what the nature of the arrest or conviction was. There should be a different treatment of arrests and convictions. The new rules have the purpose of preventing racial and ethnic discrimination and to accomplish this, employers must only use criminal background checks when they can show that the checks are necessary for the business and are job-related.

If you have questions about applying this EEOC ruling and your liability for discrimination lawsuits when you do a criminal background check, consult an experienced New York employment defense lawyer. For decades, firm founder, Stephen Hans has helped businesses with hiring and discrimination issues.

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