Hire that Felon, You Racist!

iStock_000012344557XSmall“Are criminal background checks unfairly discriminatory?”

The Wall Street Journal posed that question yesterday after the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) appeared to answer in the affirmative.

The EEOC held a hearing in which the Commission’s witnesses argued that employers should hire criminals or else face fines and lawsuits for discrimination.

The Wall Street Journal explains that the EEOC,

has in the past expressed concern that companies may improperly discriminate against minorities, who have been arrested at a disproportionate rate, when they screen out job applicants with criminal records.  The agency has even sued some companies, alleging they have used arrest records improperly.

You see, the EEOC is concerned because blacks and Hispanics are more likely than whites and Asians to have criminal records.  That means, in the bean-counting eyes of EEOC bureaucrats, that employers who perform background checks are discriminating against blacks and Hispanics.  What a crock!  It is an outrage for EEOC officials to ascribe sinister racial motivations on employers who only want to maintain a safe working environment.

Last year, when the EEOC floated this idea, I wrote in a press release:

Blacks and Hispanics also have an unfortunate higher high school and college dropout rates than whites and Asians – surely this could be determined to be a disparate impact.  Does that mean the EEOC could mandate that employers cannot consider an applicant’s education?  Where will it stop?

National Center for Public Policy Research President Amy Ridenour compassionately and pragmatically added,

Certainly employers should be permitted to hire felons; even applauded when appropriate, but they should not be made to feel they could be asked to defend themselves in court if they do not.

When parsed out, the EEOC’s logic is so convoluted it collapses on itself.

One the one hand, the EEOC is telling employers, “don’t worry, hire criminals, they are contributing members of society.”  But on the other hand, an EEOC spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal, “if ex-offenders are not given jobs the chances are that they may re-offend.”

So these folks will commit more crimes if companies don’t hire them, but they will be model employees if corporations do employ them?  Yeah, that makes sense.

The EEOC needs to abandon this misguided guidance and let employers resume hiring based on valid business considerations.

America does not have a crisis of too few regulations.  It has a crisis of too few jobs.  Perhaps, if we got rid of some of the former, we could have more of the latter.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.