It is assumed that persons with a criminal conviction or a criminal background have a very difficult time gaining meaningful employment, but according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), denying applicants because of a conviction can be systematic racial discrimination. The EEOC published guidelines to assist employers and avoid possible instances of discrimination.
The EEOC cited reports and studies that show African-Americans and Hispanics have a higher criminal conviction rate than Americans of other ethnicity. Therefore, discriminating against all persons with criminal convictions would be a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as ethnic minorities are protected classes.
The guidelines make it clear that employers should distinguish between arrests and convictions. It urges employers to not make decisions based simply on an applicant having an arrest record, because that does not necessarily mean the applicant was guilty of the alleged crime.
So while the EEOC does not directly imply that refusing to hire persons based on convictions is discrimination, it is wise for them to keep in mind that the arrest and conviction rates are different for different races. Please look through our website for more information on discrimination.
Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob—Los Angeles discrimination attorneys