At a recent conference, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission revealed some of its priorities for enforcement.
The EEOC is interested in attacking some of the barriers to getting a job. Since the EEOC has the job of enforcing federal civil rights laws, the barrier must have some impact on a particular protected category. Its efforts to challenge the use of credit reports in the hiring process, for example, have not been vigorously pursued. There is not enough research to support the theory that bad credit is more likely to be a female or African-American problem.
The use of credit reports to make hiring or promotional decisions in Maryland is limited by state law, however.
The link between criminal records and race is easier to establish. The EEOC has been trying to make clearer when the use of a criminal background is acceptable and when it unfairly weeds out potentially good applicants.
In both cases, the use of a background check needs to be linked to the job the person is applying for. Does the employee need to obtain a national security clearance? Is she going to have access to cash transactions? Is the employee going to go into customer’s homes? Is he guilty of violent crimes or drug violations?
Finally, the EEOC is continuing to focus on reasonable accommodations in the disability discrimination arena. Employers are required to engage in the interactive process to work out a way for a disabled employee to perform his job duties, even if a reasonable accommodation is required. Many employers simply make arbitrary rules without reasoning through the possibilities, or (impermissibly) use the excuse that an accommodation would not be fair to other employees.
The EEOC has been more active recently in taking cases for employees, and their settlements usually require ongoing monitoring and training of employees.