The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently clarified its position on when employers can reject job applicants based on their criminal records.
The EEOC is highly skeptical of companies that have a blanket ban on workers with criminal records, because it believes such a policy disproportionately discriminates against minorities.
However, it recognizes that a criminal background can legitimately disqualify workers for certain jobs.
According to the agency, it’s okay to take criminal history into account as long as it’s actually relevant to the position. This means that a company should “target” its background screening by considering (1) the nature of the job, (2) the seriousness of the crime, (3) the relevance of the type of crime, and (4) how long ago the crime occurred.
The EEOC also strongly urges employers to give excluded applicants a chance to respond. This means allowing them to correct errors or provide additional information to show that the specific crime isn’t relevant to the job at issue.