On June 28th, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced a settlement agreement with J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc. – a transportation company – to resolve allegations that the company discriminated against an African-American candidate for a truck driver position, because J.B. Hunt’s hiring policy considers criminal convictions that are unrelated to the duties of the job. 

 The EEOC stated that blanket prohibitions against hiring individuals with conviction records is not in accordance with the EEOC’s Enforcement Guidance on the Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions (April 2012).  The EEOC recommends that companies evaluate:

  • The nature and gravity of the offense or conduct;
  • The time that has passed since the conviction and/or completion of the sentence; and
  • The nature of the job sought prior to disqualifying a candidate with such a record.

Under the terms of the agreement, J.B. Hunt will review and/or revise its hiring policy as well as provide any additional training to company employees about the hiring and selection process.  No civil penalties were announced as part of the agreement. The EEOC press release on the settlement agreement is available here.

This is the third enforcement action that I am aware from the EEOC regarding the use of criminal history information by an employer for employment screening purposes and the revised guidance on criminal history records issued in April 2012.  The others I wrote about here regarding complaints against BMW and Dollar General stores.    Employers with policies that categorically deny job applicants from a position because of a criminal history — referred to as a blanket prohibition — need to be aware that the EEOC is charging such as a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Short of a federal requirement to have such a policy, employers should consider this settlement agreement, the EEOC complaints against BMW and Dollar General stores and the EEOC’s criminal records guidance to determine the appropriateness of such a policy.