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Corruption Chronicles

State Sues: Fed Rule against Felon Hiring Ban Endangers Public

At least one state has gone to court to fight the Obama administration’s preposterous new regulation limiting employers’ rights to ban hiring felons because it discriminates against minorities.

It’s been an ongoing battle between a number of companies and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency that enforces the nation’s workplace discrimination, for years. Under Obama the agency has dedicated extensive resources to go after businesses that check criminal background records to screen job applicants. In 2012 the EEOC officially adopted guidelines that limit employers’ ability to exclude felons from jobs.

The agency has also sued companies for using the checks, claiming in federal complaints that they disproportionately exclude blacks and other minorities 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.

This week Texas fought back, suing the EEOC in federal court claiming that the guidelines against banning the hiring of felons endangers the pubic and encroaches on state sovereignty. The lawsuit says: “The State of Texas and its constituent agencies have the sovereign right to impose categorical bans on the hiring of criminals, and the EEOC has no authority to say otherwise.” Texas also asserts that the EEOC’s policy warning to investigate employers that use felony convictions as “an absolute bar to employment” conflicts with state law that prevents agencies from hiring felons.

“If state agencies choose to comply with the EEOC’s interpretation, they not only violate state law, but also must rewrite their hiring policies at taxpayer expense,” according to Texas’s lawsuit. “And these state entities also must begin evaluating and hiring felons to serve in law enforcement, teach in local elementary schools, nurse veterans and the disabled, counsel juvenile detainees, and coach Little League. This would expose the entire state—including, in particular, its most vulnerable citizens—to a class of individuals who have a proven track record of disobeying the law. And it could expose state entities to liability for employee misconduct.”

If a recent court ruling is any indication, Texas may have a good chance of winning this battle. In mid-August a federal judge hearing one of the EEOC’s criminal background cases in Maryland, blasted the administration finding the allegations of discrimination “laughable,” “distorted,” “cherry-picked,” “worthless” and “an egregious example of scientific dishonesty.”

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. 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.”

 


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