A growing number of employers are running background checks on potential employees. Some even run credit checks to help screen applicants. When I worked in the financial world, the company always ran a background check on a prospective applicant because people with felonies or certain types of misdemeanors were not allowed to obtained insurance and securities licenses.
Many companies run criminal background checks on applicants because they want to know what kind of person they are hiring. Would you want to hire someone who has a criminal record for stealing if you were a retail employer or a company that handles a lot of cash or valuable items? Would you want to hire someone with a criminal record of sex offenses if that person would be working in or near members of the opposite sex or around children?
There are many scenarios that would deem a criminal background check for new hires to be a responsible act on the part of the employer. What happens if you hire someone without checking and that person steals, assaults or sexually molests someone else while in your employ and you get sued for failing to take proper steps to protect others from that criminal?
There are many reasons to justify the running of a criminal background check but is it racially discriminatory for an employer to run a criminal background check on employee candidates? The Obama administration says it is.
Last year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued new hiring guidelines in which they warned employers about turning away prospective minority applicants due to their having a criminal record. The new guidelines are seen as very problematic for a number of employers who are concerned about them infringing on their rights to protect themselves, other employees, customers and company assets.
Kevin Connell, Chairman of AccuScreen.com, an employment and tenant screening company said:
“Employers are unsettled over the EEOC’s questionable practices and its litigation tactics. I am fed up with the EEOC’s arrogance and their ‘sue first, ask questions later’ mentality. … The EEOC has already tried re-writing the rules that they are charged with enforcing, so we have the hiring police, the EEOC, writing, revising very confusing rules and regulations with their infamous (April 2012) update.”
Now, the Obama administration is once again attacking the rights of business owners to protect their companies by filing lawsuits against Dollar General and a BMW facility in South Carolina. They claim that the companies have unfairly used criminal background checks in screening job applicants and that the practice discriminates against blacks.
Supposedly, Dollar General unfairly discriminated against the hiring of two blacks because of the criminal background checks. One applicant was not hired because of a felony conviction that showed up on her background. The conviction was not hers and should not have been on her background, but that’s not the fault of Dollar General, is it? In the case of BMW, the EEOC claims that they are being racially discriminating because they do not consider the nature of the crime or how long ago it was.
But how do these equate to racial discrimination? Aren’t whites, Hispanics, Asians, etc. all subject to the same screening process for both companies? Is it possible that a Hispanic or white person have a crime on their record that was mistakenly placed there by someone who got the right name but wrong person? The only reason I can think of that would make this a matter of racial discrimination is that so many blacks have criminal records compared to other ethnic groups. Is this what the Obama administration is indirectly saying?
The EEOC guidelines basically said that very thing. They state that blacks and Hispanics are arrested and convicted more frequently than whites. In fact, according to some reports, nearly three times as many blacks and Hispanics are arrested as are whites. For that reason, they issued the new guidelines, which are not hard and fast policies that must be adhered to. To quote a line from a popular movie:
“And thirdly, the code is more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules.”
The lawsuits stem from several complaints filed by all blacks with the EEOC. In my past experience as a retail manager, I’ve had a number of black employees that told me to my face that I could not fire them regardless of what they did because they were black. I kept well documented employee files and when I did fire them, and they challenged my actions, I presented their files to the courts and I won every time. I only share this because I have run into so many that have that attitude, that I can’t help but wonder if the same thing holds true with those who filed the complaints with the EEOC.
Dollar General says that they strongly forbid any type of discrimination in their hiring practices. They say their criminal background checks are:
“…structured to foster a safe and healthy environment for its employees, its customers, and to protect its assets in a lawful, reasonable and nondiscriminatory manner.”
Kenn Sparks, spokesperson for BMW said:
BMW believes that it has complied with the letter and spirit of the law and will defend itself against the EEOC’s allegations of race discrimination.”
“The BMW plant in South Carolina employs thousands of people, and providing a safe work environment is one of the company’s highest priorities.”
Interestingly, one member of the EEOC, Commissioner Constance Baker, who happens to be a George W. Bush appointee to the commission, voted no on the new guidelines last year saying that the EEOC has exceeded its authority. She said:
“The only real impact … will be to scare business owners from ever conducting criminal background checks.”
I agree with Baker. The EEOC and Obama administration has overstepped their bounds many times. Everywhere you turn these days, you find the Obamanation trying to rule and control every aspect of our lives and our businesses. This, my friend, is socialism to the very core. Control, control and more control. They will box you in until you can’t move, breathe or blink your eyes without the government giving you permission to do so.