The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) held a wide-ranging meeting on July 26 to discuss a ban on pre-employment criminal background checks.

A proposed regulation is expected to be released the week beginning Aug. 1, 2011, or shortly thereafter.

In reaching this decision, the EEO commissioners indicated their main concern was the high rate of recidivism and return to prison among those released or paroled. They also voiced concern about the unreliability of some online database searches.

The National Retail Federation, among others, was swift and vocal in its opposition. In a letter, the federation noted:

“We are companies and trade associations representing businesses that have a critical need to protect the safety of people and property in workplaces across the United States. One of the most important ways to create safe working environments is for employers, principals and volunteer organizations to be able to conduct criminal background checks of employees, independent contractors and volunteers.”

The EEOC is still seeking commentary and input on the July 26 meeting and on this issue. The commission can be reached by mail or e-mail:

Commission Meeting, EEOC Executive Officer
131 M Street, N.E.,
Washington, D.C. 20507, 
or e-mailed to