State of Texas sues over EEOC guidelines on hiring felons
filed suit against the EEOC, saying the state’s hiring guidelines limit employers from excluding convicted felons from employment to ensure that they do no hold positions of public trust. On April 25, 2012, the EEOC approved an updated ‘Enforcement Guidance on the Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.’ This new guidance essentially suggests an employer’s use of an individual’s criminal history in making employment decisions may, in some instances, violate the prohibition against employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Abbott said is that Texas law allows certain state agencies to prohibit the hiring of convicted felons to ensure that they do no hold positions of public trust. Those agencies run criminal background checks to ensure that, Abbott said. “If state agencies choose to comply with the EEOC’s interpretation, they not only violate state law, but also must … begin evaluating and hiring felons to serve in law enforcement, teach in local elementary schools, nurse veterans and the disabled, counsel juvenile detainees, and coach little league,” Abbott’s lawsuit claims. According to a release from Abbott’s office, he is seeking:
- a declaratory judgment that the state and its agencies are entitled to maintain and enforce state laws and policies that absolutely bar convicted felons – or a certain category of convicted felons – from government employment;
- a declaration that the commission cannot enforce its guidelines against the State of Texas – and an injunction that bars the EEOC from issuing right-to-sue letters to persons seeking to pursue this type of discrimination charge against the State of Texas or any of its agencies; and
- a judgment holding unlawful and setting aside the EEOC’s hiring guidelines.
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