J.B. Hunt has been caught in such a case since 2009 and has finally agreed to settle the matter.
In 2009, J.B. Hunt denied a minority applicant a truck driving position based on his criminal conviction record. The EEOC’s position is that the applicant’s criminal conviction was completely unrelated to his ability to fulfill the duties of the position and, thus, was not a valid reason to deny him employment. Persons with criminal convictions are not one of the eleven groups protected by the EEOC under Title VII. However, the EEOC has essentially extended its protection to this group with the rationale that discriminating against those with criminal convictions leads to discrimination against those in protected groups.
As part of the case, the EEOC also reviewed J.B. Hunt’s overall hiring policies focusing on “blanket prohibitions” against certain applicants. As part of the settlement, J.B. Hunt must review and revise its hiring practices to conform to EEOC guidelines as well as implement regular staff training.
Although an employer may still deny an applicant based on criminal convictions, it should be sure that the conviction is directly related to the applicant’s ability to perform in the position. Other companies should learn from J.B. Hunt’s troubles and begin revising their hiring practices and policies to withstand scrutiny from the EEOC.