Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Criminal Convictions

The EEOC rulings are based on TITLE VII of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act. If there are specific takeaways from the EEOC Guidance, one of them would be to stress the importance of evaluating situations on an individual, case-by-case basis before making a hiring decision, rather than applying neutral, blanket approach policies. That is, you can’t just have a policy that states that all applicants who have any prior convictions will be disqualified. There are always exceptions according to the EEOC’s Guidance and certain industries are subject to Federal mandates requiring organizations to disqualify applicants with a specific conviction(s) in a certain specified number of recent years (i.e. banking and applicants with financial-or fraud-related convictions).

An employers approach should be to individually determine whether an applicants criminal history would have a bearing on his/her consideration for that position. These three items include: 1) the type and seriousness of the criminal conduct; 2) how much time has passed since the criminal conduct took place; and 3) the duties and responsibilities of the specific job.