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U.S. District Court Sides with the State of Texas in Lawsuit Challenging EEOC’s Guidance on the use of Criminal Records

The State of Texas had filed a lawsuit against the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) challenging their 2012 “Enforcement Guidance on the Consideration of Arrest and Convictions Records in Employment Decisions Under Title VII”. The Guidelines prevent employers from barring convicted felons from certain employment opportunities including, but not limited to, state troopers and public educators. In response to the EEOC’s Guidelines, Attorney General Paxton agrees that Texas should have the right to impose their own law, as he states that these hiring directives are “a risk to public safety.”

The latest ruling blocks the EEOC from enforcing the guidance against the state. The Court declined to declare that the state has a right to have an absolute bar of hiring convicted felons. The judge stated, “there may well be instances in which otherwise qualified job applicants with certain felony convictions in their criminal histories pose no objectively reasonable risk to the interests of the State of Texas and its citizens.”

Although a major win for Texas, the judge’s refusal to declare Texas’ right to categorically exclude felons from all jobs and the ability for the EEOC to still issue right to sue letters in Texas cases was not an entire win for the state.

The favorable ruling in TX does not apply to private employers. According to an EEOC representative, the agency is assessing the impact of the court’s decision on enforcement activities and it is unlikely the government, under the current administration, will appeal this ruling.

For more information on the EEOC guidance, click here.

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