The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

Report: Employers Discriminating Against Individuals with Criminal Records

March 28, 2011 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

Employers are discriminating against millions of Americans with criminal records, according to a report from the National Employment Law Project (NELP).

Imposing a background check that denies any type of employment for people with criminal records can be illegal under civil rights laws. The practice has a disproportionate impact on racial and ethnic minorities, who make up more than 60 percent of the prison population.

“The consistent message across the country is that people with criminal records ‘need not apply’ to jobs for which they might be the perfect fit. We hope this survey provides a wake-up call for how dire the situation has become for too many workers in today’s economy and how to move forward to achieve fairer and more accurate criminal background checks for employment,” said Michelle Natividad Rodriguez, an attorney with NELP and the lead author of the report.

In addition to raising awareness among the employer community about the issue, NELP calls for: stricter enforcement of laws regarding background checks by federal civil rights agencies like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; adoption of fair hiring policies by the federal government regulating federal employment and contracting to serve as a model for all employers; and certification by local and state governments that their hiring policies fully comply with federal civil rights standards.

Efforts to advance employment rights of those with criminal records include the “Ban the Box” campaign, a movement that seeks to prohibit public employers from asking about the criminal history of jobseekers on applications. “Ban the Box” has been successful in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Mexico.


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