There are many barriers that exist making it difficult for people in Missouri and across the U.S. to find employment. The inability to secure a job affects individuals and their families tremendously. Unemployment contributes to homelessness, malnutrition, poverty and crime. Unemployment affects the economy when individuals and families put off making purchases like homes, furniture, vehicles, and other items.
With an already difficult economy and high rate of unemployment, an individual with a criminal record can find themselves particularly hard-hit by unfair and illegal no-hire policies. A recent employment law update by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) works to combat this. The update to the legal standard says, "Under Title VII of our civil rights laws, employers may not deny employment based on a conviction except when the offense is job-related." The updated standard is meant to provide workers a fair chance at a job while allowing employers to protect their business interests and safety on the job.
There are 65 million U.S. adults who have an arrest or conviction on record and researchers have found that job applicants with a criminal record are 50 percent less likely to receive a callback. The National Employment Law Project released a report last year describing the blanket no-hire policies that persist among some companies. For example, Pepsi has a blanket policy denying a job to anyone with an arrest, even if it was a minor, non-job-related charge that never led to a conviction. The company recently agreed to a $3.13 million settlement because of the policy.
The updated guidelines were challenged by the background check industry and the Chamber of Commerce but passed in a bipartisan four to one vote. The changes were made after a thorough, deliberative process that provided opportunities for public input. The hope is that the guidelines will allow more job seekers to get a foot in the door, and provide employers access to a fuller range of loyal, qualified workers.
Source: Huffington Post, "EEOC Updates Civil Rights Protections on Criminal Background Checks for Employment," Michelle Natividad Rodriguez, May 1, 2012