NYC Employment, Civil Rights and Criminal Defense Law Blog

Friday, May 4, 2012

EEOC Issues Guidance on Use of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions.

Many employers conduct criminal background checks before deciding whether to hire someone and this can be a tremendous problem for individuals who may have had an arrest or conviction in their past – even their distant past.  Last week, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued new Enforcement Guidance on the use of arrest and conviction records in employment decisions under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that may be of help.  The EEOC explained that while Title VII, the federal law that prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion or sex does not prohibit an employer from requiring employees and job applicants to provide information about past arrests and convictions, use of criminal records as a “blanket exclusion” could violate the law because of the disparate impact on individuals who are African-American or Hispanic.  Moreover, the new Guidance calls upon employers to conduct individual assessments that look at reasonable factors, such as the nature and gravity of the criminal offense, how long ago the offense occurred and the nature of the job at issue.  The new Guidance makes clear that treating applicants with similar records differently because of their race or national origin will constitute a violation of Title VII.  Finally, the EEOC reinforced the important distinction between arrests and convictions, since an arrest does not establish or serve as proof that any criminal conduct occurred.  Issuance of the new EEOC Guidance is surely a positive step.  The difficulty is that most employers are unaware that such Guidance exists and may unfairly bar individuals from employment because of a prior arrest or conviction or treat individuals with similar records differently based on their race or national origin.  If you think this may have occurred, it is important to reach out promptly to an attorney to discuss the possibility of taking legal action.



Traub & Traub, P.C., a law firm located in New York City, New York, has as its mission the advancement and protection of the rights of the individual in cases involving employment, civil rights, criminal defense and general litigation. The firm handles cases throughout the five boroughs of NYC, as well as Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Dutchess and Rockland Counties. In addition to its work in New York, the firm has extensive knowledge and experience in the representation of federal employees in all criminal and employment-related matters and represents federal employees throughout the Northeastern United States.

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