Screening for old convictions

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a couple of lawsuits last month that send a clear signal to employers: in making hiring decisions, criminal convictions cannot be considered indefinitely.

In the first suit, the EEOC alleges that BMW criminal conviction policy unlawfully screens out African Americans from jobs and is not job-related and consistent with business necessity.

The car manufacturer’s policy denies facility access to BMW workers and employees of contractors with certain criminal convictions and has no time limit on convictions. “The policy is a blanket exclusion without any individualized assessment of the nature and gravity of the crimes, the ages of the convictions or the nature of the claimants’ respective positions,” the EEOC stated.

In the second case, the EEOC sued Dolgencorp, doing business as Dollar General, in Chicago.

A job applicant who filed a charge with the EEOC that led to the suit was given a conditional employment offer, despite having disclosed a six-year-old conviction for possession of a controlled substance. She had worked for another discount retailer as a cashier-stocker for four years. Her job offer, however, was revoked.

Another candidate was rejected when the conviction-records-check report indicated she had a felony conviction, even though she did not.

In a statement, the EEOC indicated that both instances – at least in its view – were at odds with Title VII rules.

Dollar General denied the EEOC’s allegations and said it would fight.

About the Author

Will Temby

Will has enjoyed a 20-year career in leadership positions in the hospitality and travel industry throughout the U.S. with the Hyatt, Sheraton, Hilton, Renaissance and Steamboat Ski and Resort corporations. Will received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. From 2000-2007, he served as President and CEO of the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce. He also served as Vice President-Special Projects for the University of Colorado Foundation from 2007 to 2009. Will is a past Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Homeland Defense Foundation and former member of the United States Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100. He is married to Nan, has five wonderful children, and enjoys coaching, traveling, hiking, golfing and skiing.

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