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EEOC Informal Discussion Letter

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

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/Veterans

October 24, 2013


This is in response to your September 10, 2013 letter to Jacqueline A. Berrien, Chair of the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In your letter, you state that you are an incarcerated veteran who anticipates significant difficulty finding employment and housing after your January 2014 release. You contacted Ms. Berrien because the EEOC issued guidance last year about employment discrimination and job screening due to a criminal record.

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:

  • the nature and gravity of the offense or offenses for which the applicant was convicted;
  • the time that has passed since the conviction and/or completion of the sentence; and
  • the nature of the job held or sought.

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. For example, information about prior, successful employment or participation in job training programs may demonstrate your knowledge, skills, and abilities, or suggest references. Information about social support in the community or from the Veterans Administration may demonstrate that you will have the support necessary to be a reliable worker. Last, but not least, if there are errors in your criminal record, you should inform the employer. You will know about any errors if you contact law enforcement agencies and review your record before applying for jobs.

For your information, we have attached the following EEOC documents:

  • EEOC Enforcement Guidance No: N-915.002, "Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964," April 25, 2012.
  • EEOC Fact Sheet, 2012, What You Should Know About the EEOC and Arrest and Conviction Records

You also requested materials about finding employment, and we have attached the following:

  • Guidebook for Incarcerated Veterans in North Carolina, 2012
  • Employment Information Handbook, U.S. Bureau of Prisons, 2011
  • North Carolina/National Hire Network, 2013

Finally, the Veterans Administration (VA) has a Veterans Crisis Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 (Press 1) and "Help for Homeless Veterans" at 1-877-424-3838. You also may want to contact two individuals at the Durham VA Medical Center:

[Name]: Housing Coordinator
Durham VA Medical Center
508 Fulton Street
Durham, North Carolina 27705
Telephone: (919) 286-0411 (Ext. 6045 or Ext. 5761)

[Name]: Crisis Coordinator
Durham VA Medical Center
508 Fulton Street
Durham, North Carolina 27705
Telephone: (919) 899-6259 (ext. 1026 or Ext. 1025)
(919) 286-0411 (Ext. 5642)

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 also has information.

We hope that this is helpful to you. Please note that this letter does not constitute an opinion or interpretation of the Commission 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
Assistant Legal Counsel

This page was last modified on December 13, 2013.