Should it be a federal crime for businesses to refuse to hire ex-convicts? Yes, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which recently released 20,000 convoluted words of regulatory "guidance" to direct businesses to hire more felons and other ex-offenders.This is the ultimate perversion of civil rights law. Nearly a half century ago, America finally reached agreement that people should be judged on the content of their character and not the color of their skin. Now that monumental act is being twisted into an opposite purpose. People should be exempt from judgment on their character in the name of civil rights.
But there are, in many cases, good reasons not to hire people with criminal records for particular jobs. In some cases, exclusion is even required by law. What then?
The biggest bombshell in the new guidelines is that businesses complying with state or local laws that require employee background checks can still be targeted for EEOC lawsuits. This is a key issue in a case the EEOC commenced in 2010 against G4S Secure Solutions after the company refused to hire a twice-convicted Pennsylvania thief as a security guard.
G4S provides guards for nuclear power plants, chemical plants, government buildings and other sensitive sites, and it is prohibited by state law from hiring people with felony convictions as security officers. But, as G4S counsel Julie Payne testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights this past December, the EEOC insists "that state and local laws are pre-empted by Title VII" and is pressuring the company "to defend the use of background checks in every hiring decision we have made over a period of decades."
Of course the actual civil rights law preempts state law, but any contention that the civil rights law requires a company to hire a thief as a security guard is ludicrous.
What about "disparate impact"?
Though blacks make up only 13% of the U.S. population, more blacks were arrested nationwide for robbery, murder and manslaughter in 2009 than whites, according to the FBI. The imprisonment rate for black men "was nearly 7 times higher than White men and almost 3 times higher than Hispanic men," notes the EEOC. These statistical disparities inspired the EEOC to rewrite the corporate hiring handbook to level the playing field between "protected groups" and the rest of the workforce.Those statistics are indeed a social tragedy, but forcing employers to hire foxes to guard chicken houses is not going to change them. The very high crime rates among black men are the result of cultural decay. As with many problems, a problem that affects all of our society is far worse among black Americans. The answer is a cultural counterrevolution in which traditional values of work ethic and personal responsibility make a comeback. Regrettably, the grievance mongers who pass for civil rights leaders these days seem to have no interest in such a movement. When Bill Cosby tried, he was savaged. See Juan Williams, Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America--and What We Can Do About It (2007).