Employers in the U.S. may soon have to hire more workers with criminal backgrounds under new equality guidelines issued by the federal government.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s guidelines warn companies against rejecting minority applicants who have committed a felony or other offense, recommending that those companies eliminate policies which ‘exclude people from employment based on a criminal record.’
According to the EEOC, civil rights laws already prohibit employers from selectively hiring job applicants who are of different ethnic backgrounds but have matching criminal histories.
The latest update from the EEOC was issued out of concern that employers might disproportionally decline applicants from minorities since a greater number of African Americans and Hispanics are getting arrested for crimes, according to the guideline report.
‘There is no Federal law that clearly prohibits an employer from asking about arrest and conviction records,’ the EEOC’s website states.
‘However, using such records as an absolute measure to prevent an individual from being hired could limit the employment opportunities of some protected groups and thus cannot be used in this way.’
The agency's commissioners approved the report in a 4-1 vote in April 2012.
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