On October 7, 2013, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld the imposition of fees and costs against the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) in EEOC v. Peoplemark, Inc., Case No. 11-2582, for knowingly pursuing a meritless claim in which the agency alleged that Peoplemark’s criminal background check policy had a disparate impact on minority job applicants.  The EEOC recently has moved aggressively to enforce its April 2012 guidance regarding the use of criminal background checks in hiring.  That guidance appears to suggest that any criminal background check policy may be vulnerable to an EEOC enforcement action under a disparate impact theory—regardless of its terms and the manner in which it is implemented—solely on the basis of national data that show disproportionate rates of incarceration for African-Americans and Hispanics.  However, the Peoplemark decision, of which the EEOC presently seeks en banc review, also heralds an emerging pattern of judicial skepticism towards the agency’s enforcement tactics and its efforts to pursue disparate impact claims premised solely on national statistical evidence that is unrelated to any specific employer practice.


Continue Reading Courts Begin to Narrow the Scope of the EEOC’s Most Recent Background Check Guidance