Okay to screen for criminals

A victory for sanity and a defeat for the Obama administration:

A [federal court in Maryland] has dismissed a lawsuit against an events-services company accused by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission of discriminatory hiring practices, a setback for a federal agency that increasingly argues the use of credit reports and criminal background checks can disproportionately impact minorities.

Yes, the administration really was arguing that it should be illegal for employers to prefer law-abiding persons over criminals.

UPDATE (9/3): More here on the shoddy research the administration tried to put forward:

The meat of the ruling, however, is the court’s blistering takedown of the government’s “expert” report, authored by an outside statistician who attempted to establish that Freeman’s criminal-background checks disproportionately harmed black job-seekers. Judge Titus described the report as “an egregious example of scientific dishonesty,” its analysis “laughable,” “skewed” and full of “cherry-picked data.” He concluded that the “mind-boggling-number of errors” rendered the EEOC’s “disparate impact conclusions worthless.”

In fact, the truth appears to be quite the opposite:

An October 2006 study in the Journal of Law and Economics, “Perceived Criminality, Criminal Background Checks, and the Racial Hiring Practices of Employers,” found that “employers that check criminal backgrounds are in general more likely to hire African Americans,” according to Harry Holzer of Georgetown University and his two co-authors. “[T]he adverse consequence of employer-initiated background checks on the likelihood of hiring African Americans is more than offset by the positive effect of eliminating statistical discrimination.” These researchers surmise that employers who can screen for prison records are less likely to rely on prejudice when hiring.

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