The Equal Employ­ment Oppor­tu­nity Com­mis­sion has brought two sep­a­rate law­suits against two major com­pa­nies: dis­count retailer Dollar Gen­eral and car-​​maker BMW.

The E.E.O.C. alleges that these com­pa­nies used crim­inal back­ground checks to screen out workers who have a crim­inal record of any kind. The suits were brought under the Civil Rights Act, which pro­hibits dis­crim­i­na­tion against job seekers on the basis of race.

While African-​​Americans rep­re­sent just thir­teen per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion, they account for thirty-​​seven per­cent of those incar­cer­ated in the United States. One in three black men will be incar­cer­ated at some point in their lives.

Does refusing to hire appli­cants with crim­inal records amount to racial discrimination?

Michael Melt­sner is a pro­fessor of law at North­eastern Law School who helped develop New York’s employ­ment law regarding crim­inal back­ground checks. New York’s law is con­sid­ered the highest stan­dard for pro­tecting job appli­cants with a crim­inal record.

Suzanne Lucas is a former human resources exec­u­tive who is con­cerned about the way the EEOC’s law­suits may impact employers.

Read the article at The Takeaway →