The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently issued guidance to employers regarding the use of criminal background checks when vetting potential employees. Specifically, the EEOC reiterated its position that an employer using criminal background checks must take care to avoid violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibiting discrimination against minorities. In fact, the EEOC recommends that employers stay away from using criminal background checks in the hiring process.
The EEOC's guidance comes after Pepsi paid $3.1 million to settle charges that it had refused to hire minorities with arrest records earlier this year.
Of course, employers may have a legitimate reason to use criminal background checks. For example, criminal records can help employers eliminate employee theft and screen out potentially violent individuals. The EEOC wants to make sure, however, that employers have a legitimate reason to use this information.
The EEOC recommends that employers conduct an assessment of an applicant's criminal background in light of:
- The nature and gravity of an applicant's offense;
- The amount of time that has passed since the offense; and
- The nature of the job
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Source: EEOC, "EEOC urges caution on criminal background checks."