Best Practice Standards for Employers Hiring Individuals with Criminal History
Date:  05-30-2013

Reentry advocates and legal experts answer call by employers to determine the correct way to use background checks in hiring decisions
The following press release contains a link to “Best Practice Standards: The Proper Use of Criminal Records in Hiring,” a guide that was developed by several organizations advocating the hiring of qualified workers with a past criminal record. The National H.I.R.E. Network, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and the National Workrights Institute issued the guide after employers determined that they needed concrete guidelines to aid them in hiring decisions.


“Best Practice Standards: The Proper Use of Criminal Records in Hiring” Report Addresses Widespread Use of Prior Criminal Convictions in Screening and Disqualifying Job Applicants which Disproportionately Affects Minorities

WASHINGTON, DC, May 21, 2013 -- National groups advocating for civil rights and workers’ rights today released a guide for employers to limit use of criminal history in order to avoid unlawful discrimination in hiring applicants for new jobs. The National H.I.R.E. Network, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and the National Workrights Institute prepared the guide, "Best Practice Standards: The Proper Use of Criminal Records in Hiring,” in consultation with prominent leaders of the background screening industry. The publication will be the subject of a conference this Fall hosted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York.

The widespread use of prior criminal convictions in screening and disqualifying job applicants has been challenged for years by civil and workers’ rights organizations because of the severe impact conviction history can have, often permanently, on the ability of qualified minority workers to find employment. Last year the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) adopted an Enforcement Guidance on the Use of Arrest and Conviction Records, which described general practices employers could follow in their efforts to comply with the non-discrimination provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In that Guidance the EEOC noted that while less than 6 percent of white men will be imprisoned in their lifetime, over 17 percent of Latino men and over 30 percent of African American men will serve a prison term.

The Best Practices Standards are described as “concrete, practical procedures that will help employers make hiring decisions that comply with the EEOC Guidance, maximize productivity, and minimize the risk of liability either from violating Title VII or from hiring an unfit employee.” Lawyers’ Committee President and Executive Director Barbara Arnwine, observed, “The Lawyers’ Committee has been contacted by workers who have been denied jobs because of criminal convictions 10, 15, 25, or 30 years ago, even though they have maintained clean records for the last 10 or 20 years. Employers need to stop excluding applicants because of old convictions that tell them nothing about the contribution that this job seeker can offer their companies today, convictions that are so old no trial court would consider the conviction relevant to the applicant’s truthfulness or character.”

Roberta Meyers, director of the National H.I.R.E. Network, which has fought over the past ten years to level the playing field for the millions of individuals who have criminal convictions by reforming local, state, and federal policies that keep qualified workers from competing for jobs noted, “Employers constantly tell us that they need practical guidelines to help in their hiring procedures. These Best Practice Standards will be a major resource for employers who are seeking tools to help them with these decisions when a job applicant has a conviction record.”

Lewis Maltby, president of the National Workrights Institute, noted that, “Employers and consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) want to treat applicants with criminal records fairly, but aren’t sure how to do it. Title VII, Fair Credit Reporting Act, negligent hiring, and state statues impose complex requirements that are sometimes in tension. Many important issues aren’t governed by any law. These Best Practices are designed to give employers and CRAs the guidance they need.”

Consultants from the background screening industry who helped develop the Best Practice Standards included Lester Rosen, the first chair of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) and the author of two books for employers on screening job applicants, and Fred Giles and James Owens, of Carcogroup, which provides employers a variety of employee selection services, including background screening.

About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. We are celebrating our 50th anniversary in 2013 as we continue our quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers' Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and fair lending, community development, employment; voting; education and environmental justice. Click here to go to website

National HIRE Network of the Legal Action Center.

Established by the Legal Action Center in 2001, the National Helping Individuals with criminal records Re-enter through Employment (H.I.R.E.) Network is both a national clearinghouse for information and an advocate for policy change. It is one of several special projects at the Legal Action Center. The goal of the National H.I.R.E. Network is to increase the number and quality of job opportunities available to people with criminal records by changing public policies, employment practices and public opinion. HIRE accomplishes these goals by providing leadership on public policy advocacy, providing technical assistance and training on overcoming labor market barriers based on a criminal record, and promoting collaboration between individuals directly affected by the criminal justice system, advocates, practitioners, researchers, and policymakers working to improve the employability of people with criminal records. Click here to go to website.

National Workrights Institute

The National Workrights Institute was founded in January 2000 by the former staff of the American Civil Liberties Union's National Taskforce on Civil Liberties in the Workplace. The Institute's creation grew from the belief that the workplace is a critical front in the fight for human rights. The Institute's mission is to be the one human rights organization which commits its entire effort to workplace issues. The Institute's goal is to improve the legal protection of human rights in the workplace.

To read “Best Practice Standards: The Proper Use of Criminal Records in Hiring,” please click on the link below.

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