The EEOC Over-reaches Again: the Agency’s Ongoing Interest in Employee Background Checks – Criminal and Otherwise
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is the agency responsible for
enforcing many federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a
job applicant or an employee because of they are member of a protected class.
The EEOC handles individual complaints and brings charges of systemic discrimination
– those involving patterns, practices, and policies where the alleged discrimination
has a broad impact on an industry, profession, company, or geographic area.
In the past few years, in pursuit of its goal to snuff out systemic discrimination,
the Commission has targeted the use of employment screenings that may have
disparate impacts, particularly criminal background and credit history checks.
The Commission’s crusade against systemic discrimination has become more and
more notorious as the EEOC continues to litigate several federal lawsuits
charging employers with inappropriately considering criminal histories in
hiring in violation of Title VII.
Employers should be mindful that use of a broad criminal background check,
not tailored to the job in question, exposes them to unnecessary risk. Employers
should also be aware that while the use of a background check can provide
them with useful information about applicants, incorrect use of background
information can lead to a host of problems.