Monday, March 28, 2011

65M unemployable Americans is too many

Criminal background checks -- cheap and easy to get these days -- are making 65 million Americans unemployable, according to a new report by the National Employment Law Project. NELP tells us,
In recent years, the criminal background check industry has grown exponentially. Particularly in the wake of 9/11, the ready availability of  inexpensive commercial background checks has made them a popular employee screening tool. In one survey, more than 90 percent of companies reported using criminal background checks for their hiring decisions.  At the same time that the background check industry has expanded, the share of the U.S. population with criminal records has soared to over one in four adults.

In the right situations, criminal background checks promote safety and security at the workplace. However ... it can also be illegal under civil rights laws... major companies as well as smaller employers routinely deny people with criminal records any opportunity to establish their job qualifications. For any number of entry-level jobs, ranging from warehouse workers to delivery drivers to sales clerks, employers and staffing agencies post these and other job ads...

“No Exceptions! . . . No Misdemeanors and/or Felonies of  any type ever in background,”


“You must not have any felony or misdemeanor convictions on your record. Period.” shows how that works in a story, Help wanted -- sixty-five million need not apply.
In 2008, Johnny Magee, who is developmentally disabled, was laid off from his landscaping job in Livermore, California, thanks to government budget cuts. He applied for a new position as a garden center attendant at a nearby Lowe's Home Improvement store. Despite his prior experience, Magee wasn't hired. Why? A background check had turned up a 1999 misdemeanor conviction, stemming from an incident in which he unknowingly picked up a package for his uncle that contained drugs. Later that year, Magee's conviction was dismissed—but that was too late for him to get the job at Lowe's.
We love this little detail from the Yahoo story as well: "Bank of America routinely posts job ads on Craigslist that exclude people with criminal records." Bank of America!!! The same Bank of America that illegally seized people's homes. The same Bank of America that defrauded investors when it acquired Merrill Lynch. The same Bank of America that's been charged with cheating its customers?
UPDATE (we forgot about this): The same Bank of America that paid no taxes last year?

We have a strange way of dealing with criminals in this country.