AUGUST 16, 2013
The Obama administration’s claim that criminal background checks discriminate against minority job applicants suffered a lashing from a federal court that found the allegations “laughable,” “distorted,” “cherry-picked,” “worthless” and “an egregious example of scientific dishonesty.”
That kind of whipping from a federal judge has got to hurt though it’s unlikely to deter the administration from spending more taxpayer dollars to file frivolous lawsuits against employers who use the checks to screen job applicants. Judicial Watch wrote about this a few weeks ago when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency that enforces the nation’s workplace discrimination laws, sued two large companies that screen criminal background records claiming that the checks disproportionately exclude blacks from hire.
That violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, according to the Obama administration, which has pushed hard to deter companies from using criminal background checks to screen job applicants. Of interesting note is that the EEOC conducts criminal background checks as a condition of employment and credit background checks for most of its positions. For some reason, it’s not discriminatory against minorities when the agency does it.
But it is when private businesses utilize the tool because information about prior convictions is being used to discriminate against a racial or ethnic group, according to the EEOC. Thus, the alleged violation of civil rights laws. The argument is laughable, but a federal judge hearing one of the government’s many background-check discrimination cases in Maryland wasn’t amused.
The case involves a family-owned company (Freeman Inc.) that provides services for corporate events, conventions and exhibits. The business has 3,500 full-time and 25,000 part-time and seasonal workers throughout the U.S. Like many companies, Freeman has been a victim of embezzlement, theft, drug use and workplace violence by employees. Background checks on job applicants are essential to better evaluate candidates’ trustworthiness and reliability, according to court documents.
Obama’s EEOC claims the business “unlawfully relied upon credit and criminal background checks that caused a disparate impact against African-American, Hispanic, and male job applicants.” To support this absurd argument, the agency presented the court with “expert” data, including a detailed statistical analysis, supposedly proving its disparate impact claims.
In a scathing 34-page opinion published this week, U.S. District Court Judge Roger Titus lambasted the administration’s expert data, writing that it was “laughable”; “based on unreliable data”; “rife with analytical error”; containing “a plethora of errors and analytical fallacies” and a “mind-boggling number of errors”; “completely unreliable”; “so full of material flaws that any evidence of disparate impact derived from an analysis of its contents must necessarily be disregarded”; “distorted”; “both over and under inclusive”; “cherry-picked”; “worthless”; and “an egregious example of scientific dishonesty.”
There are simply no facts to support a theory of disparate impact, the judge writes, further stating: “By bringing actions of this nature, the EEOC has placed many employers in the “Hobson’s choice” of ignoring criminal history and credit background, thus exposing themselves to potential liability for criminal and fraudulent acts committed by employees, on the one hand, or incurring the wrath of the EEOC for having utilized information deemed fundamental by most employers.”
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