Most businesses and even employees, see the benefit of reserving the right not to hire a convicted felon. Regardless, the Obama administration’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) says it should be a federal crime to refuse to hire ex-convicts.
Wait, what? That’s right, if you’re looking to start a new business, this administration wants you to make sure you’re not discriminating against criminals. The EEOC even threatens to sue companies that do not comply with hiring ex-convicts.
The reasoning for these prospective changes for employers is that “black men are nearly seven times more likely than white men to serve time in prison, and therefore refusals to hire convicts disproportionally impact blacks.” In other words, it’s discrimination. Newsmax reports:
Most businesses perform background checks on potential employees, but the EEOC frowns on these checks and “creates legal tripwires that could spark federal lawsuits,” Bovard observes.
An EEOC commissioner who opposed the new policy, Constance Baker, said in April that the new guidelines will scare businesses from conducting background checks.
Reason: If a check does disclose a criminal offense, the EEOC expects a firm to do an “individual assessment” that will have to prove that the company has a “business necessity” not to hire the ex-convict. If the firm does not do the intricate assessment, it could be found guilty of “race discrimination” if it hires a law-abiding applicant over one with convictions.
Bovard points out that the “biggest bombshell” in the new guidelines is that businesses complying with state or local laws requiring background checks can still be sued by the EEOC.
That came to light when the EEOC took action against G4S Secure Solutions, which provides guards for nuclear power plants and other sensitive sites, for refusing to hire a twice-convicted thief as a security guard — even though Pennsylvania state law forbids hiring people with felony convictions as security officers.
Todd McCracken of the National Small Business Association added “State and federal courts will allow potentially devastating tort lawsuits against businesses that hire felons who commit crimes at the workplace or in customers’ homes. Yet the EEOC is threatening to launch lawsuits if they do not hire those same felons.”