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Need to Check an Employee's Criminal Background? Tread Carefully


Federal laws do not prohibit employers from asking about a job applicant’s criminal history. But equal employment opportunity (EEO) and federal laws prevent employers from discriminating against job applicants on the basis of this information. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has guidelines that establish the following rules:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employers from treating people with similar criminal records differently because of their race, national origin, color, sex or religion

  • Title VII also prohibits employers from using policies that screen individuals based on criminal history information if the company’s policies:

  1. significantly disadvantage Title VII-protected persons such as African American and Hispanics; AND

  2. do not help the employer accurately decide if the person is likely to be a responsible, reliable or safe employee. FULL ARTICLE

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