Using Old Convictions to Disqualify Applicants? Beware EEOC Lawsuits
Posted on July 11, 2013
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.
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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.