Federal contractors restricted in ability to look at applicants' criminal history records

Federal contractors have to give a fair shot to people with criminal records according to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).  The DOL’s new directive restricts federal contractors, subcontractors, and federally-assisted contractors' ability to look into employees’ criminal records. 

The directive cites statistical data demonstrating that “[r]acial and ethnic disparities are reflected in incarceration rates” and “other criminal history records.”  Hopefully, the directive will help reduce discriminatory impact on hiring based on race and ethnicity.

The basic rule is that an employer may rely on criminal records if there is a business necessity for doing so, and if the employer's inquiry is job related.  Three questions guide this business-necessity test:  (1) the nature and gravity of the offense or conduct; (2) the time that has passed since the offense; (3) the nature of the job held or sought.

For more information, contact your labor law counsel, or read the full directive here:  http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/regs/compliance/directives/dir306.htm.

By Sean Graham

Legal Developments