The EEOC in June of this year made monumental changes to their guidelines for using criminal records against job seekers. I was happy to see these changes because it will help my participants in the long run. Now I do realize that when an employer discriminates against someone it is hard to prove, but now employers cannot have a blanket policy that blocks individuals with criminal records from employment. Since there is nearly 700,000 people being released from prisons and millions of individuals cycling through local jails or prisons this is going to help them with employment. There are a few points that will help employers succeed in changing their policies to make sure they are not being discriminatory in their hiring practices.
1. The EEOC has strongly suggested that employers remove the question “Have you Been Convicted of a Felony”. This question is often used to automatically exclude an individual from employment possibilities. I agree with taking this question off of an application because just because an individual has committed a crime does not mean that this person is that crime. The felony question is also used to discriminate between individuals who are African American and not White. Some places will hire a white individual with a felony more than they would an African American. Removing this question is a great thing.
2. To make sure you are in compliance look over your job descriptions and decide what felonies are o.k. and which have restrictions. There are felonies that can be regulated to not be acceptable. Someone Convicted of Auto Theft, should not expect to work in a car lot. Looking at the instances of what the job entails will help you The new changes to the guidelines will make it to where once there is an intent to hire, then the background check should be performed and if there is a background then the hiring manager should call in the individual and give them a chance to discuss the situation.
3. Length of time and rehabilitation is also to be taken into account when in the hiring process. The EEOC suggests a policy that looks at the amount of time that has passed since the event, the severity of the event and if the person did anything while incarcerated to change and better their self. Without blanket hiring policies that automatically throw a person with a felony out of the running, it is now time to look at the events that surrounded the crime. It is only to be known by the hiring manager and has to be kept confidential. If a secretary is the one who orders the criminal history it needs to be received in a sealed envelope to be opened only by the hiring individual, then locked in a cabinet.
4. The EEOC is also suggesting that employers develop an individualized assessment per each job seeker. An Individualized assessment allows an individual who may not be eligible for a job to come in and explain any circumstances or give more information surrounding the crime. It allows details to be explained about the offense like how long ago it was, how old they were when the crime was committed and what they have done since the crime, any work experience including temp work they have had since the offense.
If society does not want the revolving criminal door, then every employer needs to begin to give a chance to someone who has been convicted of a crime. In my experience someone just out of jail has the gratitude for the job and the desire to work hard at succeeding, some more than the employees who are working now and not engaged in their job, they are just there.