Denying Jobs Based on Past Crimes Could be 'Discrimination'

Updated: 02/07/2013 7:56 AM By: Nick Winkler

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, EEOC, has issued guidance for organizations that use background checks for applicants.

The EEOC now discourages employers from asking about criminal backgrounds unless the crime committed may impact the job applied for.

Employers that deny employment based solely on criminal background may be violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Now, the EEOC suggests employers that ask about criminal histories take into account the nature of the crime, time elapsed since conviction, and the nature of the job applied for.

Attorneys say the federal guidance may at times be at odds with state law.

In the event an employer bases a decision not to employ someone on criminal background, EEOC guidance says the employer should notify the applicant and allow the applicant an opportunity to demonstrate he or she should not have been denied employment.

While the guidance is not legally binding, the EEOC will use it to enforce discrimination claims.