Many employers utilize background checks to gather information prior to making hiring decisions.  In the past, if someone turned up with a felony conviction, their application was dismissed.  NOT SO FAST!

The EEOC now says that such an act might constitute a violation of Title VII, unless a separate business justification exists for the decision.  More specifically, the EEOC says employers must consider the nature and gravity of the offense, the time that has passed since the conviction or completion of the sentence, and the nature of the job.

The rationale behind this opinion arises from the fact that some minorities are convicted at a rate that is disproportionately higher than their representation in the population. Therefore, blind reliance upon a conviction might create "adverse impact discrimination" as a "substantially different rate of selection in hiring, promotion, or other employment decision which works to the disadvantage of members of a race, sex, or ethnic group."

Employers using criminal background checks need to double check that their policies and avoid implementing blanket policies in which no one with a criminal record is hired.