Nearly 130 Chicago Public Schools employees have been terminated, recommended for dismissal or simply resigned amid scrutiny following an enormous review of worker backgrounds prompted by a Tribune investigation this year.
That group of employees includes nine teachers, 35 people classified as classroom aides and an unspecified number of people the district lists as substitute or hourly workers, according to CPS. In addition, 124 employees are still barred from work because they have not submitted fresh fingerprints for an updated district background check.
More than 130 school volunteers also have been dismissed or resigned under review, as have 184 vendors employed by companies that do business with CPS. Roughly 150 of the vendors were custodial staff — and most were removed because they did not provide “sufficient information” after CPS asked about their background check results.
I can’t tell for sure from the story what the circumstances were, so I am unsure whether this was a good move or not. Given how large the number was, I have my doubts. My point is that it ought to be the school system’s (and not the federal government’s) decision.
Nevertheless, the EEOC’s 2012 Guidance on criminal background checks says that because these decisions have a disparate impact on African Americans they potentially violate Title VII. It essentially says that it gets to decide whether an employer’s policy on hiring (or retaining) ex-felons is permissible.
If the EEOC had direct jurisdiction over state and local governments, I suspect it would already be bringing a Title VII lawsuit for “race discrimination” here. Fortunately for Chicago Public Schools, only the Department of Justice can initiate federal pattern or practice lawsuits against it under Title VII, so we’ll see ….
I am sympathetic to the notion that we need to do things to re-integrate ex-cons back into society (and I support the modest tax deduction available to employers who make voluntarily hires). But the EEOC’s policy of bullying employers into hiring ex-felons against the employers’ better judgment—which I discuss and critique here—is wrongheaded for all sorts of reasons and was never intended by Congress.
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