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EEOC questions fairness of criminal background checks

Posted on July 26th, 2011 Read time: 1 minutes

As part of the application process, human resources administration often runs a criminal background check on all job candidates.

However, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is reexamining this requirement, as the agency believes arrest and conviction records could unfairly prevent certain demographics from being hired as permanent or temporary staff, the Washington Post reports.

On Tuesday, the EEOC will hold a hearing to determine whether criminal background checks are tantamount to discrimination, as the agency and a number of other anti-discrimination organizations argue that African Americans and Hispanics have higher arrest rates than whites.

Others, though, believe criminal background checks provide employers with more information and guarantee customers' safety. "Is this too much to ask, that employers take appropriate steps to ensure the safety of their customers from their employees?" wrote Lucia Bone, founder of the Sue Weaver Consumer Awareness of Unsafe Service Employment, according to the source.

New York, Philadelphia, Hawaii and Massachusetts all have laws in place that treat criminals as a protected class, excluding sex offenders and those convicted of violent crimes, San Francisco's KUOR-AM reports. Currently, San Francisco is considering adding its name to the list. 

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