Does your company conduct pre-employment background checks that include a history of felony convictions?
If you answered yes to either — you could be putting your company at risk of violating EEOC’s Title VII Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Many employers assume that they can summarily reject job applicants who have a felony conviction, and changes in EEOC enforcement guidelines (April 25, 2012) have made that “blanket” approach to rejecting all candidates with felony convictions a recipe for legal disaster.
The EEOC’s current position states that the safest way for employers to avoid liability for discrimination (under Title VII) is to no longer summarily reject all otherwise qualified candidates (who have a felony conviction) and to show that any rejection was “job related and consistent with business necessity.”
Employers can make this showing if, during the pre-employment screening process, they take the time to consider:
1. at least the nature of the crime
2. the time elapsed since the criminal conduct occurred
3. the nature of the specific job in question
4. if the applicant was given the opportunity to show why he / she should not be rejected
Other safeguards against this type of discrimination claim would be:• a specific and narrowly written policy defining the employer’s position on hiring / employing candidates with certain felony convictions
• inclusion in specific job descriptions of any related restrictions for criminal convictions
• removal of any “blanket” statements such as “convicted felons need not apply” in job applications, company website career pages, or job ads
• make sure hiring managers know company policy on hiring restrictions and fully understand that the 4-step process listed above needs to be well documented and retained in a confidential manner
The HR professionals at Achilles Group will help you create or re-create your hiring policy. Call Deborah at 281-469-1800 for more details.