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Criminal background checks for employment may be discriminatory

EEOC questions whether applicants' criminal histories should be used in employment decisions

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) held a hearing yesterday to determine if an employer can use a job applicant's criminal history to make hiring decisions.

Currently, companies may use background checks for criminal histories when considering candidates for positions. But the EEOC and some anti-discrimination advocacy groups have questioned the practice--claiming it has a disparate impact on African Americans and Hispanics because those races have higher rates of criminal arrests and convictions than white people.

The hearing yesterday consisted of three panels: Best Practices for Employers; An Overview of Local, State and Federal Programs and Policies; and Legal Standards Governing Employers’ Consideration of Criminal Arrest and Conviction Records. After each panel discussion, EEOC commissioners held Q&As.

According to the EEOC, it will hold open the July 26 Commission meeting record for 15 days, and it invites audience members, as well as other members of the public, to submit written comments on any issues or matters discussed at the meetings.

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Cathleen Flahardy

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