Criminal Checks Present Hiring Barrier For Minorities
AUGUST 01, 2011
At the request of a leftwing civil rights group, the government agency that enforces employment discrimination is considering outlawing criminal background checks as a tool to screen job applicants because it presents a hiring barrier for minorities.It marks the latest collusion between the Obama Administration and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which has been deeply involved in dictating immigration policy. A few months ago Homeland Security officials suspended the scheduled deportation of an illegal immigrant at the ACLU’s request. Earlier in the year Judicial Watch uncovered Justice Department records that show the agency worked hand-in-hand with the ACLU in mounting their respective legal challenges to Arizona’s immigration control law.Now the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or employee based on race, color, religion or sex, is considering changing a major policy at the ACLU’s request. It involves criminal background checks on job applicants, a growing practice among employers with security concerns.Because Hispanics and African Americans have higher rates of arrest and convictions than whites, they suffer discrimination at a disproportionate rate, according to the ACLU. This presents a barrier to hiring and promotion, the group claims, adding that 65 million Americans have a criminal record yet growing numbers of employers refuse to hire people with convictions. At the ACLU’s request the EEOC held a special meeting last week to focus on the economic, social and civil rights implications as the as the agency “considers updating its guidance on background checks.”Various experts testified that “people of color” are disproportionately affected by the criminal background checks, creating yet another barrier for those returning to their community from the criminal justice system. A Justice Department official who handles “urban affairs” pointed out that a disproportionate number of African Americans have criminal records yet they need to be able to compete for legitimate job opportunities.A college professor and civil rights attorney thanked the “new leadership” at the EEOC for bringing attention to a “profound civil rights challenge.” In a letter thanking EEOC commissioners, who are appointed by the president, for holding the meeting, the ACLU reminds the agency of a tragedy; “more than 850 reports from women and men around the country who have been refused or dismissed from employment because of their criminal record.” The ACLU also gives the commission “recommendations” to solve the matter.
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