Lawsuits claim job applicants with criminal background face hiring hurdle

 @ibtimes on April 29 2011 2:39 PM

People with criminal records are finding difficulty in getting jobs, prompting a spurt in lawsuits that challenge hiring policies that discriminate against applicants with criminal backgrounds.

Corporate are increasingly hiring companies that screen potential employees for criminal backgrounds. And, even if a job applicant is otherwise well-qualified to get the job, a criminal background, especially a past criminal conviction, substantially erodes the individual's chances of securing the job.

According to legal experts, the federal law doesn't prohibit discrimination based on criminal background but the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has adopted guidelines that say a blanket ban on such hiring discriminates against minorities that have higher rates of convictions, violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

The EEOC claims that even those convicted of minor offenses or of crimes that appear to have little relevance to the jobs they are seeking, face a difficult time in securing jobs.

The EEOC has, in fact, filed several lawsuits against companies that has discriminatory hiring policies but often, proving a case becomes challenging due to lack of evidence.

Employers also argue that they use common sense when they review a candidate's background and take steps to ensure that they are being treated fairly.

However, rights advocacy groups aren't giving up. According to them, the U.S. Government spends a great deal of money and effort in incarcerating people but doesn't do much in helping them to find gainful employment after they are released.

I understand the employers' response that, 'We don't want murderers working for us,' Adam T. Klein, an employment lawyer with Outten & Golden in New York, a firm that has represented plaintiffs in class-action lawsuits against employers over criminal checks, told The New York Times. What if you just have minor events, like arrests for drug use in college, speeding tickets, D.W.I.'s?

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