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Anne_C, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 2302
Experience:  15 Years Litigation Experience
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can you not hire someone because of criminal background I

Resolved Question:

can you not hire someone because of criminal background? I did not call an individual in for an interview because we ran background checks first. He contacted civil rights.
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Anne_C replied 7 years ago.

There is a difference of opinion on this issue. Most employment law attorneys take the position it is legal to discriminate based on criminal law convictions. However, the ACLU does not agree.


The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) has taken the position that, "The EEOC and some courts have held that employers' bans on hiring people with convictions or arrests can violate Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 in the absence of a "business necessity," because such bans have a disproportionate impact on people of color."


Here is a brief discussion of Ohio employment laws:


In Ohio, "It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, or ancestry of any person to discharge without just cause, to refuse to hire, or otherwise to discriminate against that person with respect to hire, tenure, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, or any matter directly or indirectly related to employment." Criminal history is not a protected class.


Here is information from the EEOC on impermissible discrimination Ohio also prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy and disability. Here is a link to the Ohio Civil Rights Commission:




If the person you decided not to hire was a minority, he may have convinced the ACLU or another rights organization that the reason was not only because of the conviction, but also discriminatory.


I am not sure what type of position he was interviewed for, but you may have a good business reason for not hiring him. For example, if he was being considered for a job as a driver and had a felony DUI conviction, that would be a good reason not to hire him.


By the way, if you carry CGL insurance, you may have insurance coverage for this claim against your company. You should contact your insurance agent and ask.

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Relist: Incomplete answer.
Anne - I understand title VII and I will check with my insurance co. I need to know if I should respond to civil rights letter by saying I did not interview individual because I did not do any hiring for a cdl driver. I must tell you why I'm concerned...This individual lives in the "neighborhood" where my business is. He needed someone to write a letter saying there could be a possible position for this person if he had a cdl license. He asked twice--the third time I did write a letter saying if, if, if--no committments. He then got the gov't to pay for his license and then he came back and filled out an application. I saw him on the street one day and he asked if I had a position. I said no and let him know that we would need to run his license and do a background check first. Thats it. Never say the guy again since March of 09 and in January of 10, I get a letter from civil rights. I feel just, but dont know how best to respond to this letter. He is black, but not an issue--half the people that work for me are black and the only people I have hired since march are black. The letter (which I do not have a copy of) showed good intent, but gave no promises. How should I respond?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
my question is how do I respond to the civil rights letter?
Expert:  Anne_C replied 7 years ago.

Thank you for the additional information.


It sounds like you had a genuine business reason for not hiring this person - you don't have any openings - so yes, go ahead with what you were asking about in your last post. Tell them you didn't interview or hire him because you didn't have any openings at the time. If you haven't hired anyone in that position since you wrote the letter for him, mention that as well.

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