Posted on July 11, 2013

Using Old Convictions to Disqualify Applicants? Beware EEOC Lawsuits

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is targeting employers who use old criminal convictions as a basis for refusing to hire applicants. A lawsuit dealing with this issue was filed in June of 2013 against BMW Manufacturing.

In this case, BMW’s hiring policy barred employees with certain criminal convictions and did not have a time limit on convictions. According to EEOC regulations, organizations cannot automatically disqualify a candidate because he or she has a criminal record. To use criminal record for a basis for disqualifying candidates, employers must:

* Prove a business justification
* Examine the nature of the job
* Consider the crime’s nature, gravity and time passed since it was committed

For example, if a qualified candidate has a criminal conviction, before you rule her out you must look at whether her conviction would affect the job, how serious the crime was and how long it has been since she committed it. If she is applying to be your bookkeeper, but just got finished serving time for accounting fraud, the business justification for refusing to hire her would be much stronger than if she had vandalized a car in high school.

The EEOC claims that BMW failed to do this, declaring their policy to be a “blanket exclusion without any individualized assessment.” This case and other recent cases serve to reinforce the point that refusing to hire an applicant based on criminal convictions could qualify as employment discrimination. The EEOC is trying to discourage employers from denying employment on the sole basis of criminal record.

Learn more about this and other background screening issues: watch an employment screening webinar hosted by industry expert Lester Rosen.

Managing your company’s risk of lawsuits and non-compliance is a challenging task—and regulations aren’t getting any less complicated. Partnering with Paycor can help reduce the compliance burden and streamline employee processes:

* Employment screening verifies information about your employees and prospective job candidates
* Applicant tracking simplifies hiring and maintains compliance with EEOC regulations
* HR application streamlines processes, reduces redundancies and gives you instant access to accurate records
* HR Support Center gives you an online knowledgebase of HR checklists, templates and guides
* HR On Demand lets you access HR professionals to answer your specific questions

Source: Society for Human Resource Management, Lester Rosen (Employment Screening Resources)

This article is intended as a general overview, and should not be considered legal advice.