Employers often refuse to hire people with criminal records even years after they have completed their sentences, leading to recidivism and higher social services costs, experts told the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission this week. The agency wants to highlight employers' best practices, ways in which arrest and conviction records have been used appropriately, and current legal standards. EEOC chair Jacqueline Berrien said the agency seeks to “learn about the practical ways employers have been able to balance business concerns with the need to ensure that employment practices are fair and non-discriminatory.” Michael F. Curtin, Jr. of the D.C. Central Kitchen, told the EEOC of success his organization has had educating people returning from the criminal justice system to work in the food service and catering industry.
Victoria Kane of the hospitality group Portfolio Hotels & Resorts related best practices her company uses to increase the hiring and retention of people with arrest and conviction records. Barry Hartstein, who counsels companies in employment law, discussed the confusing and often contradictory pressures on businesses when using arrest and conviction records in making employment decisions. Noting the unreliability of criminal record databases, lawyer Adam Klein warned of the proliferation of online companies offering “instant” background checks that generate reports that often contain inaccurate or incomplete information and that rarely provide explanatory details about any criminal record information. Comments may be sent to the agency by August 10 at Commissionmeetingcomments@eeoc.gov