How Does a Criminal Background Affect Employment?

How Does a Criminal Background Affect Employment?It is not uncommon for a well qualified job candidate to be turned down for a job simply because he has a criminal conviction. This practice is common for both large and small companies (including Pepsi), and has a disparate effect on minority workers who are more likely than non-minorities to have criminal records. Chapter VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employer practices that disparately impacts minorities.

However, until recently, there was not a clear rule on how criminal background checks may or may not be used in the hiring process. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), the agency that is charged with enforcing Title VII, is now trying to put a stop to these employer practices.  At the end of April 2012, the EEOC issued guidance to employers, making it clear that employers may not use a candidate’s criminal background as an excuse not to hire a candidate unless the crime is related to the position or proves that if hired, the job candidate will be a bad employee.

According to the EEOC’s guidance, “[i]n the last twenty years, there has been a significant increase in the number of Americans who have had contact with the criminal justice system and, concomitantly, a major increase in the number of people with criminal records in the working-age population….The Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (DOJ/BJS) has concluded that, if incarceration rates do not decrease, approximately 6.6% of all persons born in the United States in 2001 will serve time in state or federal prison during their lifetimes.”  (Citations omitted.)

If you are an employer and need help determining whether a candidate’s criminal background relates to the position to which they are applying, contact a Cook County business lawyer who can provide you with sound legal advice. If you’ve been denied a job due to your criminal background, an experienced Cook County employment attorney can provide legal advice that could help you find work. Contact the Gierach Law Firm today!