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Using Criminal Records in Employment Decisions

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Presentation on theme: "Using Criminal Records in Employment Decisions"— Presentation transcript:

1 Using Criminal Records in Employment Decisions
EEOC Guidance Using Criminal Records in Employment Decisions

2 Ground Rules We want this to be a dialogue.
If you have not already, please mute your phone. If you have a question, please un-mute your phone, identify yourself and ask your question. We will have a general Q&A session at the end.

3 FYI The first 9 slides are “Background”.
It’s important to know how we got here because the new Guidance builds on previous EEOC rules.

4 Background The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is the primary “rule book” for background checks - enforced by the FTC. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is involved only when background checks and Title VII of The Civil Rights Act of 1964 intersect i.e. discrimination against protected classes (race, color, sex, religion or national origin). This involvement manifests itself primarily in the use of “non-conviction data” aka “arrest records” in background check reports (1990).

5 More background The original1990 EEOC opinion is based on a DOJ report that stated minorities are arrested “disproportionately” more often that majorities. Since a person is presumed to be innocent, an arrest does not constitute “guilt” and therefore unfair to minorities. This effectively bars the use and receipt of arrest records in background checks even though the FCRA says arrest records may be used unless the information is older than seven years. Until this new Guidance, that was

6 It’s About “behavior” A “purist” will tell you that arrest records may be used if the underlying behavior poses an unreasonable risk to the employer. An applicant is arrested repeatedly for domestic violence but never convicted; a review of the cases reveals a pattern of violent behavior that poses an unreasonable risk to the workplace. The EEOC says you have to review the evidence yourself. This is a very high standard for the employer to meet.

7 The heart of the matter The EEOC enforces Title VII.
A person with a criminal record is not a “protected class” under Title VII. “Therefore, whether a covered employer’s reliance on a criminal record to deny employment violates Title VII depends on whether a claim of employment discrimination is based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.” Final decision will be based on finding of “Disparate Impact” and “Disparate Treatment”

8 Disparate impact & treatment
Disparate Treatment occurs when a protected applicant can demonstrate he/she was treated “differently”by an employer Example: Two applicants with similar backgrounds including criminal histories aren’t given equal consideration because of “racial or ethnic animosity”. Disparate Impact occurs when a protected applicant can demonstrate that policies/practices have the effect of disproportionately screening out protected groups. Example: An employer historically reserves certain jobs or positions in their organization for one protected class vs. another.

9 practical implications
After the plaintiff establishes disparate impact or treatment, Title VII shifts the burden of production and persuasion to the employer to “demonstrate that the challenged practice is job related and consistent with business necessity.” Even if an employer successfully demonstrates that its policies are job related, a plaintiff may prevail by demonstrating that there is a less discriminatory “alternative employment practice” that serves the employer’s goals. (Brown v Fort Worth Bank & Trust )

10 Exceptions Notes Compliance with Federal laws that conflict with Title VII are a defense to the charge of discrimination. State and local laws/regulations are preempted by Title VII if they require or permit an unlawful employment practice.

11 The preceding rule have been in place since 1990.

12 So What has changed? It used to be about arrest records. It now includes convictions. The new Guidance calls out a specific behavior it believes contributes to discrimination under Title VII: “Blanket” disqualification policies that exclude anyone with a criminal record (any criminal record). The use of general questions related to criminal histories on applications i.e. “Have you ever been convicted...”

13 Highlights Again, “National data supports a finding that criminal record exclusions have a disparate impact based on race and national origin.” Two circumstances where EEOC believes their use are acceptable: The employer validates the criminal conduct exclusion using data that adheres to the “Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures” (link on our website) - Note: This is extremely difficult.

14 Exceptions The employer develops a targeted screen that considers, at least, the nature of the crime, the time elapsed and the nature of the job (“Green Rules” from Green v Missouri Pacific Railroad). Additionally, the employer then provides the applicant an opportunity for an individualized assessment (interview)... to determine if the policy as applied is job related and consistent with business necessity.”

15 What’s a company to do? From “EEOC Best Practices”
Eliminate policies/practices that exclude people based on any criminal record. Document that you’ve trained your managers about Title VII

16 What’s a company to do? Develop a written policy/procedure for screening applicants for criminal records. Include: Essential job requirements of each position Specific offenses that demonstrate “unfitness” Duration of exclusions aka “point of redemption”.

17 What’s a company to do? Include an individual assessment or review of each marginal case. Document any research or consultations used to craft the new policy. When asking questions about criminal records, limit inquiries to records that are job relevant.

18 how do i do this? Make a list of all job classifications.
Determine what types/levels of crimes will disqualify an applicant i.e. violence, theft sex, drugs, etc.. Determine what time limit(s) are relevant for each type. Note: Some crimes can be “forever”. Conduct assessments for marginal applicants. Provide/document training for your hiring managers.

19 It might Look like this Yes No Job Class Violence Drugs Theft Sex
Driving Office Yes No Field Supervisor Manager

20 Disqualifying convictions
Offense Misdemeanors Within Past 5 Years Felonies Within Past 7 Years Violence Assault, Domestic Violence, Battery Terroristic Threats Possession of a Deadly Weapon Aggravated Assault Murder/Manslaughter Drugs 2 or more Possession of Mariijuana Possession of Controlled Substance Sched I, II, III Possession with Intent to Distribute Theft Theft by Check $50-$500 Theft $50-$500 Grand Theft Auto Theft $500 - $50,000 Sex N/A Aggravated Sexual Assault Registered Sex Offender (Previous) Registered Sex Offender (Current) - (No Limit) Driving 3 or more tickets DWI - 1st or 2nd DWI 3rd or More

21 Company Policy/Practice
How to implement Offense Company Policy/Practice Miscellaneous Felony conviction within past seven years - Aggravated Assault Disqualification Conviction - Possession of Marijuana six years ago. Conduct Assessment; Review and confirm Applicant’s version of events DWI (1st) six years ago If a driver, conduct assessment and confirm facts; if non-driver, not job relevant; should be hired Consider adding consequences to 2nd DWI to employment agreement

22 This isn’t one size fits all
Each industry will have its “hot buttons”. Trade associations may create organized response for their industry. Consult your legal counsel

23 changing the question Option 1 Option 2
Change the question to address convictions or pending charges related to the job i.e. theft, violence, drugs, etc. Option 2 Remove the question from your application and present it later in the process; prepare a brief questionnaire with more detailed questions

24 Let’s Review Identify Your Positions By Levels
1 Identify Your Positions By Levels 2 Determine Your Risk(s) by Job i.e Theft, Violence, etc. 3 Identify Disqualifying Offenses with Time Limits 4 Put a Review Process in Place and Document

25 Eliminate all policy language that is “absolute”
Review (cont) 5 Eliminate all policy language that is “absolute” 6 Reformat the “Question” about criminal records; the EEOC recommends moving it deeper into the process

26 don’t procrastinate There are currently 112 open cases regarding the use of criminal records with the EEOC. Plaintiff Attorneys will “smell blood” in the water.

27 Watch for updates on our Client Exchange.
Questions and General Discussion?

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