EEEOC Office of Legal Counsel staff members wrote the following informal discussion letter in response to an inquiry from a member of the public. This letter is intended to provide an informal discussion of the noted issue and does not constitute an official opinion of the Commission.
Title VII /Conviction Policy/Prison Inmate
November 20, 2013
This is in response to your October 25, 2013 letter to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC or Commission), attention Jacqueline Berrien (Chair). In this letter, you state that you expect to be released in several months from incarceration, after serving a total of 6 1/2 years. You request information about apprenticeship programs and employment training for ex-offenders.
The Commission enforces, among other laws, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (Title VII). Title VII prohibits employment discrimination § including hiring discrimination - based on race, color, sex, religion, or national origin. Excluding people from employment due to criminal records may raise issues under Title VII, especially if it disproportionately harms people of a particular race or national origin. If that occurs, the employer must show that its policy is necessary in light of:
If an employer says that you may not be hired because of your criminal record, the EEOC’s position is that you should have an opportunity to provide more facts before the employer makes a final decision. Information about your prior, successful employment or participation in job training programs may demonstrate your knowledge, skills, and abilities. Similarly, information about your social support in the community or from personal references may demonstrate that you will have the support necessary to be a reliable worker. If there are errors in your criminal record, you should definitely inform the employer. You will know about any errors if you contact law enforcement agencies and review a copy of your criminal record before applying for jobs.
For your information, we have attached the following EEOC documents:
You also requested materials about employment opportunities after your release. We have attached the following:
After your release, if you apply for employment and believe that you have been discriminated against, you may file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. You may call 1-800-669-4000 to locate the EEOC field office nearest to you. The EEOC’s website at www.eeoc.gov also has information.We hope that this is helpful to you. Please note that this letter does not constitute an official opinion or interpretation by the EEOC within the meaning of §713(b) of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-12(b).
Carol R. Miaskoff
Acting Associate Legal Counsel
This page was last modified on December 13, 2013.
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