The state of Texas filed a federal suit against the EEOC, disputing guidance that discourages employers from instituting total bans on hiring convicted felons.
Texas believes that the EEOC has overstepped its legal bounds.
EEOC guidance states that blanket hiring exclusions may create a disparate and discriminatory effect on certain protected classes by singling out, for example, individuals of a certain race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
The EEOC guidance urges businesses to delay inquiring about past convictions until they make a conditional job offer. Then employers are supposed to consider the crime’s seriousness, how much time has elapsed since it was committed and the relevance of the crime to the job being sought.
The state argues that this approach would mean higher costs and more time-consuming procedures for Texas businesses.
In its complaint, the state argued it has the right and need to screen out workers with criminal backgrounds, particularly when hiring for agencies that work with children and the elderly.
The state believes it would have to rewrite its hiring policies at taxpayer expense.
Texas further alleges that the EEOC guideline is illegal and is currently seeking a declaratory judgment stating that its current “no felons” policy is not an unlawful employment practice. The complaint states, “The state of Texas and its constituent agencies have the sovereign right to impose categorical bans on the hiring of criminals, and the EEOC has no authority to say otherwise.”
Final note: While Texas is the only state to take legal action, nine other states have written letters to the EEOC challenging itsguidelines. Since the guidelines were issued, the EEOC has taken on several large companies over their criminal policies.