Daniel J. Mitchell

Now the clowns from the EEOC have jumped to the aid of a new “protected class.” Who are these unfortunate and mistreated people that the bureaucrats want to defend?

Get ready to pick your jaw off the floor. Jim Bovard has a column in the Wall Street Journal that seems like satire from The Onion.

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.

I’m sure employment lawyers are delighted at the thought of all the billable hours that will be required to peruse 20,000 words of bureaucratese, but what on earth is the EEOC thinking?

Well, it seems the bureaucrats have a long track record of seeking to “protect” the criminals amongst us.

…the EEOC began stretching Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to sue businesses for practically any hiring practice that adversely affected minorities. In 1989, the agency sued Carolina Freight Carrier Corp. of Hollywood, Fla., for refusing to hire as a truck driver a Hispanic man who had multiple arrests and had served 18 months in prison for larceny. The EEOC argued that the only legitimate qualification for the job was the ability to operate a tractor trailer. U.S. District Judge Jose Alejandro Gonzalez Jr., in ruling against the agency, said: “EEOC’s position that minorities should be held to lower standards is an insult to millions of honest Hispanics. Obviously a rule refusing honest employment to convicted applicants is going to have a disparate impact upon thieves.”

But even though the bureaucrats were slapped down by the courts, the EEOC continues to harass companies that seek to hire honest workers who aren’t a threat to the general public.

…the EEOC guidance frowns on such checks and creates new legal tripwires that could spark federal lawsuits. …If a background check discloses a criminal offense, the EEOC expects a company to do an intricate “individualized assessment” that will somehow prove that it has a “business necessity” not to hire the ex-offender (or that his offense disqualifies him for a specific job). …It is difficult to overstate the EEOC’s zealotry on this issue. The agency is demanding that one of Mr. Livingston’s clients—the Freeman Companies, a convention and corporate events planner—pay compensation to rejected job applicants who lied about their criminal records.

To understand the stupidity and venality of government, re-read the last sentence of that excerpt. The EEOC actually wants a business to give money to applicants who were rejected because they lied about their criminal records.

I’m at a loss for words.

Actually, just joking. I have a lot more words to write, particularly when I see that the bureaucrats at the EEOC also launched a legal attack against a firm that understandably didn’t want to hire crooks for sensitive jobs such as guarding nuclear power plants.

…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. …The EEOC’s new regime leaves businesses in a Catch-22. As Todd McCracken of the National Small Business Association recently warned: “State and federal courts will allow potentially devastating tort lawsuits against businesses that hire felons who commit crimes at the workplace or in customers’ homes. Yet the EEOC is threatening to launch lawsuits if they do not hire those same felons.”

Oh, by the way, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that the EEOC refuses to say whether it conducts background checks on its own employees. Remember, the ruling class shouldn’t have to worry about all the laws imposed on you and me and the rest of the peasants.

…the EEOC is practically rewriting the law to add “criminal offender” to the list of protected groups under civil-rights statutes, [but] the agency refuses to disclose whether it uses criminal background checks for its own hiring. When EEOC Assistant Legal Counsel Carol Miaskoff was challenged on this point in a recent federal case in Maryland, the agency insisted that revealing its hiring policies would violate the “governmental deliberative process privilege.”

What’s particularly tragic about this farce is that it will almost certainly hurt the minorities that the EEOC supposedly is trying to help.

…studies published in the University of Chicago Legal Forum and the Journal of Law and Economics have found that businesses are much less likely to hire minority applicants when background checks are banned. As the majority of black and Hispanic job applicants have clean legal records, the new EEOC mandate may harm the very groups it purports to help.

Remarkable…and typical.

And if you want a few more examples of government stupidity:

Simply stated, government is a disaster waiting to happen – just as shown in this satirical poster.

P.S. If you didn’t get suicidally depressed after reading this post, Jim Bovard has a column about the Department of Housing and Urban Development that is equally mind-boggling.


Daniel J. Mitchell

Daniel J. Mitchell is a top expert on tax reform and supply-side tax policy at the Cato Institute.
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