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Good news for employers: The feds have issued clear guidance on the use of arrest and conviction records in making employment decisions — including enforcement guidelines and Q&A.
It’s a win all around, said the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) — job applicants, employees, employers — who previously have been stymied in efforts to clearly identify what’s legal when an applicant comes to you has a criminal incident as part of his or her backgrounds.
Now, there are enforcement guidelines.
Employers are allowed to ask job applicants for information about any arrests, convictions or jail time.
Employers now seek criminal background checks on 90% of some or all job applicants; it was 51% in 1996.
But it’s against the law to use that information to discriminate in employment — that would violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, saying employees can’t be discriminated against due to race, gender, religion, etc.
The EEOC emphasizes it’s now bringing everything and everyone up to date on how to handle criminal backgrounds in making employment decisions.
Previous policy statements have been pulled together, streamlining the process of how to deal with those situations.
Along with explanations of how Title VII should be applied, the EEOC has offered guidance on several topics that come up when dealing with gauging the impact of a criminal background.
A sampling of the guidance the EEOC is now offering:
- Best practices for employers
- The difference between how to treat arrest records vs. conviction records
- How to make employment decisions about people with a criminal history — without landing in court.
The EEOC has also made available information about the public meetings, testimony and transcripts that went into the process.