EEOC is Right, But Also So Very Wrong (Part 1)

America, this isn’t hard at all.  We just need more sophisticated reasoning when we converse.

EEOC argues that employers who use criminal background checks as a blanket basis for refusing to hire qualified candidates are violating Title VII because such policies have a disparate impact on Black and Hispanic people.  While supporting what they are attempting to do, I would argue that EEOC is going about this all wrong.

The question is:  Is the use of criminal background checks to weed out qualified job applicants a violation of the applicant’s civil rights?  In ruling against EEOC in three major cases in this area, no court has answered this question, because none of the bases for ruling against EEOC have been specific to the merits of EEOC’s underlying notion.

Let me be clear:  I am not denying disparate impact.  I am saying that the case for the full inclusion of restored citizens into our workforce can be made in a way that is undeniable to even the most racist, ignorant bigot.  Because even the most prejudiced, discriminatory, hateful, and utterly intolerant American still cares about money.  This is why the case EEOC is making should be a business case – an economic case – and not a racial case.

The full inclusion of restored citizens into our workforce is good for America, and is good for each American’s personal pocketbook.  Getting people off of government assistance programs and into career making positions for which they are qualified (at the salaries which those higher level positions pay) will improve our economy in every area, and will generate millions of dollars in federal, state, and local income, payroll, and sales taxes.  Even the bigot will benefit.

Could we agree on the following statement?

White men are still overwhelmingly the decision makers in corporate America.

If we agree on that, the problem – and therefore, the most effective and less litigious means of solving it – becomes a lot clearer.

EEOC’s legal challenges on this issue are being levied against the decision makers in corporate America – who are primarily white men.  This is the primary reason why their tactics are failing.  I could write a long blog about this subject (and I will), but for now I will make a simple recommendation:  Read the book “Angry White Men: American Masculinity at the End of an Era,” by sociologist Michael Kimmel.  In this book Dr. Kimmel presents what he calls a comprehensive diagnosis of the fears, anxieties and rage of America’s angry white male.  He reasons that many white men see increased gender and racial equality as a major contributor to their downward mobility.  Even if the reader only agreed with a portion of Dr. Kimmel’s arguments, it would still explain why there would be an almost unanimous, practically knee-jerk negative reaction to EEOC’s litigation on this issue as a racial case, rather than its bringing trainers specifically on this issue to make the business case to primarily white male business owners and decision makers.

While we’re at it, could we possibly agree on another statement?

Every action that has a disparate impact to Black and Hispanic people is not about intentional or conscious racism.

But that’s Part 2.  Stay tuned.


As a Restored Recruiter Lisa Forbes is redefining what it means to be a qualified employee and empowering restored citizens to rise above their conviction. Learn more at Also connect with Lisa via Facebook I Twitter I LinkedIn I Youtube

Posted on August 27, 2014 in Journal

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