CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS OUST ALMOST 130, INCLUDING 9 TEACHERS, OVER CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECKS: 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.