Wall Street Journal: “EEOC Exposes Itself to Ridicule on Background Checks”

The Wall Street Journal published 4 responses today to my February 15 article on the EEOC – along with a great headline – “EEOC Exposes Itself to Ridicule on Background Checks”:

Regarding James Bovard’s “Perform Criminal Background Checks at Your Peril,” (op-ed, Feb. 15): With the federal government trying to force private-sector businesses to hire convicted thieves as security guards, can we expect to see convicted murderers working the homicide desk in our local police departments in the near future? In the FBI? In President Obama’s Secret Service detail? If not, why not? This prospect raises another question, as well: Will these ex-convicts also be excused from the background checks required for gun ownership, or will they be expected to do their jobs without the tools of their trade? This administration takes lunacy to a whole new level and doesn’t even blink.
Bob Jamieson

The conundrum for employers created by the EEOC with its latest guidance on the Consideration of Arrest and Convictions Records in Employment Decisions described by Mr. Bovard is the latest example of a government policy which fosters permanent unemployment.

The employer must be sufficiently prescient to know when an employee’s criminal history should bar future employment. Then, after the fact, the employer learns of the wisdom of that decision. Perhaps the lesson is a tort claim deriding the employee’s propensity to harm, or a civil claim that the selection process was discriminatory. As a business attorney, I engage daily with perplexed clients seeking some reasonable path to comply with increasingly complicated and often conflicting federal, state and municipal policies. I understand their torment. Sadly, I am often reminded of a client who, on learning of the latest dilemma, would respond to my question, “What are you going to do?” with “I am going to invest in machines that replace employees.”
Carl Seldin Koerne
New York

An employer may consider smoking, drinking and even obesity when hiring a new employee, but not his criminal record? Note to convicted felons: Make sure you have your last cigarette in the joint.
Tom McIntyre
Sheridan, Wyo.

Let me get this straight: I need to hire someone without criminal checks, but that same person can’t buy a gun?
Paul Gomory
San Francisco

A version of this article appeared Feb. 25, 2013, on page A14 in some U.S. editions of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: EEOC Exposes Itself to Ridicule on Background Checks.

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