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Feds warn employers of lawsuits over background checks of the Protected Class.


For many employers, a criminal background check is a no-brainer when hiring workers — especially those handling money or with safety responsibilities.
Employers don’t want embezzlers cooking their financial books, thieves working the cash register or drug offenders working the pharmacy.
But the federal government is now warning employers that background checks could run afoul of anti-discrimination laws if they use the checks the wrong way. That could result in lawsuits brought by employees and prospective employees who claim some sort of discrimination.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission    issued some guidelines for employers today regarding the use of criminal background checks.
The EEOC said employers can get into legal trouble if they use background checks as the basis for not hiring a protected class of workers.
Protected Class: The groups protected from the employment discrimination by law. These groups include men and women on the basis of sex; any group which shares a common race, religion, color, or national origin; people over 40; and people with physical or mental handicaps. Every U.S. citizen is a member of some protected class, and is entitled to the benefits of EEO law. However, the EEO laws were passed to correct a history of unfavorable treatment of women and minority group members.

Be prepared to explain your

reasonable rationale for firing

protected-class worker

Recent case: Charlie Heard, who is black, was terminated from his job as head wrestling coach at Waynesburg University. He sued for race discrimination.
The trial court agreed that Heard had shown he was fired under circumstances indicating race may have played a part—that is, he was the only black coach and the only one fired.
But the court then looked at the university’s rationale. The university explained that it fired Heard because he got into an altercation with a student athlete and actually hit the wrestler. That trumped any apparent discrimination.
The EEOC warns employers that arrest records are different from records showing criminal convictions.
The federal agency also noted that minorities are more likely to have been in jail than whites, and employers need to make sure they have consistent hiring policies for various races and other backgrounds.
“About one in 17 white men are expected to serve time in prison during their lifetime. By contrast, this rate climbs to one in six for Hispanic men and to one in three for African American men,” according to the EEOC’s ruling and official guidance on the matter.
The federal agency — which will sue employers on workers’ behalf in discrimination and retaliation cases —more at source
The many peoples with origins in Europe, North Africa, or the Middle East make up the dominant white population. Of course, many more minority groups can be identified in the American population. However, they are not classified separately as minorities under EEO law. It should be noted that women are not classified as a minority. However, they have experienced the same kind of systematic exclusion from the economy as the various minorities. Thus, they are considered as having “minority status” as far as the law is concerned.

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