New EEOC Guidance Prompts Reevaluation Of Criminal Screening Policies

Just when most churches have made criminal background screening standard to avoid harm to children, the elderly, and other vulnerable persons and liability, the federal government has issued guidance reminding employers that, unless criminal screening policies are carefully designed and implemented properly, the policies themselves can confer liability under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII).

On April 25, 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released Enforcement Guidance on the use of criminal histories when making employment decisions. Much of the Guidance summarizes existing law per-taining to an employer’s use of an applicant’s criminal history. The primary departure or elaboration on precedent in the Guidance is that the EEOC now strongly recommends that employers make an “individualized assessment” before taking adverse action based on an applicant’s or employee’s criminal history.

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