States Challenge EEOC Regulations on Criminal Background Checks

Sunday, 28 Jul 2013 02:42 PM

By Amy Woods

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Federal regulations curbing criminal-background checks by employers have prompted nine attorneys general to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, according to a report by Fox News.

The guidelines were put into place last year by the Obama administration in an effort to curtail discrimination, especially against African-Americans, Fox News said. The attorneys general described the rules as "a quintessential example of gross federal overreach."

Two lawsuits have resulted from the new EEOC guidelines. Dollar General is being sued by two job applicants, one of whom said her civil rights were violated when she was denied a job based on an erroneous finding of a felony conviction.

The other lawsuit involves a South Carolina BMW dealership that terminated a disproportionate number of black workers based on criminal histories without considering the details or the nature of the crimes, including when the crimes were committed.

According to the Fox News story, the EEOC updated the policies because more African-Americans, as well as Hispanics, are arrested than other populations in the country. All of the job applicants in the lawsuits are black.

In West Virginia, where Dollar General is one of the largest employers, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said the EEOC's guidelines constitute "aggressive overreach." The other attorneys general in the fight represent Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, South Carolina and Utah.

"We believe that these lawsuits and your application of the law, as articulated through your enforcement guidance, are misguided and a quintessential example of gross federal overreach," wrote the attorneys general in a letter to Jacqueline Berrien, chairwoman of the EEOC.

Kevin Connell, who heads an employment-screening company in Florida, told Fox News the EEOC probably will not reverse its course.

"My concern is the EEOC is trying to create a protected class, which is former criminals," Connell said. "Anybody with some intelligence can see that."

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