A RECENT CASE SHOULD SERVE TO REMIND EMPLOYERS ABOUT THE EEOC’S POSITION ON CRIMINAL BACKGROUND SCREENING
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Rooms To Go, a large furniture retailer, reached a voluntary conciliation agreement in September to resolve allegations of race discrimination raised by an unsuccessful black applicant whose offer of employment was rescinded as a result of Rooms To Go’s background check policies.
The cooperative agreement acknowledges Rooms To Go’s changes to its hiring and screening policies, including the removal of any blanket exclusions for criminal convictions, affording all applicants an opportunity for an individualized assessment.
This case involved the EEOC’s 2012 Enforcement Guidance on the Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The guidance is based on the EEOC’s position that criminal record exclusions may disproportionately and unjustifiably exclude people of a particular race or national origin. Among other things, the guidance advises employers (a) to use screens to ensure only criminal convictions that are job-related and consistent with business necessity are considered and (b) to conduct individualized assessments based on nine factors before making final employment decisions based on criminal history information. The guidance also strongly discourages employers from using general disqualification criteria (e.g., a felony conviction disqualifies an individual from all jobs) when evaluating criminal history information.