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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


March 10, 2014

Dear _:

This is in response to your February 21, 2014 letter to Chair Jacqueline Berrien of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).   In this letter, you state that you are working on a "home plan" in anticipation of your release from prison in approximately two years.  You request information about benefits/opportunities for ex-offenders. 

The EEOC 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. 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:

  • 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

For your convenience, we have attached additional materials concerning employment opportunities after your release. 

  • Employment Information Handbook, U.S. Bureau of Prisons, 2011
  • North Carolina/National Hire Network, 2014

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 have also provided contact information for unemployment and social security benefits that you requested:

Elizabeth City, North Carolina Social Security Office  
1865 West City Drive
Elizabeth City, NC 27909
Phone: 1-866-572-2819; 1-800-772-1213

North Carolina Employment Security Commission
422 McArthur Street
Elizabeth City, NC 27909
Phone: (252) 331-4798
Jobs Line: (800) 768-5627
Fax: (252) 331-4809
E-Mail Address:

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 April 22, 2014.