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EEOC Informal Discussion Letter

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

EEOC 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 Arrest & Conviction Records (Youth at Work)

Sent via e-mail 12/26/2005

Thank you for your inquiry about youths on probation. The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws that prohibit employment discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, or disability. These laws do not directly prohibit discrimination because someone is on probation.

However, using arrest or conviction records as an absolute bar to employment disproportionately limits the employment opportunities of some racial or ethnic groups and thus may violate the federal antidiscrimination laws. The antidiscrimination laws are not violated if – considering the nature of the job, the nature and seriousness of the offense, and the length of time since it occurred – the conviction or arrest record indicates that individual cannot be trusted to perform the duties of the position.

More detailed information about the antidiscrimination law as applied to arrests or convictions can be found in EEOC Policy Statements on the Issue of Conviction Records Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Consideration of Arrest Records in Employment Decisions Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (attached), which are attached to this e-mail.

Note that some state laws limit the use of arrest and conviction records by prospective employers. Some information on state laws can be found at You may also wish to contact your state fair employment agency.

We hope this information is helpful to you. Please note, however, that this letter does not constitute an opinion or interpretation of the Commission within the meaning of § 713 of Title VII.

Dianna Johnston

This page was last modified on April 27, 2007.