Many employers require job applicants to disclose past convictions on their job applications. Although this information may sometimes be relevant to a job qualification, some employers refuse to even consider an applicant with a felony conviction even if the offense took place in the distant past and is not relevant to job performance. Such a practice can have particularly devastating consequences for communities of color, who are overrepresented in the criminal justice system as a result of racial profiling, the misguided War on Drugs, and other biases.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency responsible for enforcing employment discrimination laws, has warned that when employers categorically refuse to consider applicants with felony convictions, such a practice likely runs afoul of Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act because of its disparate impact on people of color. The ACLU of Michigan represented two African American men whose job applications were rejected by Quicken Loans, a large corporation with headquarters Detroit, because of their felony convictions. In both cases, their convictions occurred in the distant past and would not compromise their ability to perform the job for which they applied.
In 2015 we filed complaints on their behalf with the EEOC. The EEOC conducted an investigation, and in April 2016 issued a determination that there was reasonable cause to believe that Quicken had violated Title VII by categorically refusing to consider applications based on a past conviction. In response, Quicken Loans has stated that it plans to revise its hiring policies.
(ACLU Attorneys Mark Fancher, Brooke Tucker, Miriam Aukerman, Dan Korobkin and Michael J. Steinberg, and Legal Fellow Sofia Nelson.)
To view the full 2014-2015 Legal Docket, click here.