Can Employee Criminal Background Checks Lead to Discrimination?

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reported they received more complaints about workplace discrimination from Texas than any other state last year. The EEOC recently made the report public, and it indicates nearly 10,000 of the 99,947 federal complaints of workplace discrimination came from Texas—more than 10%.

The most common form of complaint coming out of Texas is a “retaliatory charge,” alleging employers retaliating when the workers fight the discrimination in some fashion—for example, filing a complaint with the EEOC. The second and third most common complaints were race and gender discrimination.

The EEOC recently announced an overhaul of its policy on employment criminal background checks to limit discrimination against African American and Hispanic men, who sources state have a higher arrest and conviction rate.

“The ability of African-Americans and Hispanics to gain employment after prison is one of the paramount civil justice issues of our time,” said EEOC member Stuart Ishimaru.

Nearly 75 percent of employers conduct criminal background checks on employers. Do you think that these companies have a right to know the criminal history of its employers, or does it discriminate against certain ethnic groups?

Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob—Los Angeles employment law attorneys