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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/Conviction Policy/Prison Inmate

February 6, 2015

Dear ___:

This is in response to your September 16, 2014 letter to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), requesting resource materials for finding employment in Georgia after your release from prison.  You are also requesting information on your appeal rights, habeas corpus, withdrawal of a plea, and 26 U.S.C. §163. The EEOC cannot provide guidance on criminal law and procedures, but it can offer general guidance about employment discrimination and the consideration of conviction records in employment decisions.

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 because of past convictions may raise issues under Title VII if, for example, the exclusion disproportionately harms people of a particular race or national origin and the employer does not justify it 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.

The focus here is on criminal conduct, typically demonstrated by a conviction.  Therefore, an applicant should not be excluded based on an arrest alone, although evidence of disqualifying conduct for a particular position may be grounds for exclusion.   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 before applying for jobs and review a copy of your criminal record.

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, Questions and Answers About the EEOC's Enforcement Guidance on the Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions Under Title VII.

We have also attached the following general references concerning employment opportunities for ex-offenders:

  • Employment Information Handbook, U.S. Bureau of Prisons, 2011
  • Ex-Offender Information, Georgia, 2012
  • Georgia/National Hire Network, 2015
  • Georgia Ex-Offenders Employment Programs, 2013
  • Georgia Reentry Skills Building Handbook, 2014

After your release, if you apply for employment and believe that you have been discriminated against based on a protected characteristic, 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.

For information concerning your appeal rights, habeas corpus, withdrawal of a plea, and 26 U.S.C. §163, the following offices may be helpful.

Georgia Public Defender's Office
100 Peachtree Street, NW; Suite 1600
Atlanta, Ga. 30303
Telephone: (404) 612-5200

Georgia Justice Project
438 Edgewood Avenue, SE
Atlanta, Georgia 30312
Telephone: (404) 827-0027 ext. 238

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
Assistant Legal Counsel

This page was last modified on March 09, 2015.