EEOC Weighs in on Employment Background Checks

Nick Fishman

Last month, the EEOC who had been largely silent on issues related to employment background checks, made a statement that has and will continue to have ripple affects across the human resources and legal community for the foreseeable future.

“A blanket refusal to hire workers based on criminal records or credit problems can be illegal if it has a disparate impact on racial minorities, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.”

“Our sense is that the problem is snowballing because of the technology allowing these checks to be done with a fair amount of ease,” said Carol Miaskoff, assistant legal counsel at the EEOC.

Admittedly, I am way late to the party on this one.  Why?  I’ve been trying to digest it all and contemplating how best to respond.

What I think makes the most sense is to bullet-point topics that we will examine and dissect in a series of posts.  So here goes:

First, check out the the article below and we’ll go from there.

Some Job Screening Tactics Challenged as Illegal

Companies using criminal records or bad credit reports to screen out job applicants might run afoul of anti-discrimination laws as the government steps up scrutiny of hiring policies that can hurt blacks and Hispanics.

A blanket refusal to hire workers based on criminal records or credit problems can be illegal if it has a disparate impact on racial minorities, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The agency enforces the nation’s employment discrimination laws.

“Our sense is that the problem is snowballing because of the technology allowing these checks to be done with a fair amount of ease,” said Carol Miaskoff, assistant legal counsel at the EEOC.

With millions of adults having criminal records — anything from underage drinking to homicide — a growing number of job seekers are having a rough time finding work. And more companies are trying to screen out people with bankruptcies, court judgments or other credit problems just as those numbers have swollen during the recession.

Just ask Adrienne Hudson, a single mother who says she was fired from her new job as a bus driver at First Transit in Oakland, Calif., when the company found out she had been convicted seven years earlier for welfare fraud.

Hudson, 44, is fighting back with a lawsuit alleging the company’s hiring practice discriminates against black and Latino job seekers, who have arrest and conviction rates far greater than whites. A spokesman for First Transit said the company does not comment on pending litigation.

“People make mistakes,” said Hudson, who is black, “but when they correct their mistake, they should not be punished again outside of the court system.”

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Nick Fishman
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Nick Fishman

Nick Fishman is the co-founder of EmployeeScreenIQ, a leading, global employment background screening provider, and serves as the company’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer. He pioneered the creation of EmployeeScreen University, the #1 educational resource on employment background checks for human resources, security and risk management professionals. A recognized industry expert, Nick is a frequent author, presenter and contributor to the news media. Nick is also a licensed private investigator in the states of Ohio and Texas.
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