09 May Background Checks Vs. Civil Rights
As the use of background checks become a standard practice during the hiring process, the Equal Employment opportunity Commission (EEOC) has created guidelines for employers use of arrest and conviction records in order to prevent discrimination.
New York leads the US in legal protections for people with criminal records, yet there is great difficulty for individuals to find employment if they have a record of arrests or convictions.
Researchers led by Princeton professor Devah Pager of the New York Hiring Discrimination Study hired groups of men to pose as job applicants. Although they were similar in education, experience and appearance – even their resumes were the same except for some who had a minor drug possession conviction. Job applicants with a conviction were almost 50 percent less likely to receive a job offer or be called back.
At the Nov. 7 meeting of the American Bar Association, EEOC lawyer James Paretti Jr. stated that the EEOC guidance is intended to guide an employer’s interpretation of background information so that it complies with Title VII of the 1964 Civil Right’s Act.
In order to treat applicants fairly, it is becoming necessary to review criminal histories in more detail and on an individual basis. The EEOC’s guidance suggests a “targeted screen” which combines three factors. These include considering the severity of the criminal offense, the time since the conviction or sentence served and the nature of the employment.
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