The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced last year a new enforcement guidance under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to employers regarding the use of arrest and convictionrecords in employment decisions. Though there is no federal law prohibiting an employer from asking about arrest and/or conviction records, this recent guidance informed employers that even a neutral and uniformly applied “policy (e.g., excluding applicants from employment based on certain criminal conduct) may disproportionately impact some minority groups protected under Title VII, and may violate the law if not job related and consistent with business necessity.” If a background check is in fact necessary, the EEOC recommended that the policy at least consider “the nature of the crime, the time elapsed, and the nature of the job, and then provide an opportunity for an individualized assessment for people excluded.”
disproportionate effect on minorities due to the higher statistical incarceration rates for minorities. The court dismissed the case on summary judgment in favor of the company due to the unreliability of the EEOC’s witnesses; however, the judge went out of his way to state his strong disdain for the EEOC’s guidance. Specifically, the judge noted that the EEOC’s guidance places employers in an unworkable position due to the inherent risks that can come from ignoring criminal history checks and employers should not have to second guess their decision to obtain fundamental information on their potential workers.