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NRF Concerned by EEOC Ruling on Criminal Background Checks

For Immediate Release
Stephen E. Schatz (202) 626-8119

NRF Concerned by EEOC Ruling on Criminal Background Checks

WASHINGTON, April 25, 2012 – The National Retail Federation expressed concern over new guidelines issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission today on employers’ ability to conduct criminal-background checks on job applicants.

“NRF is pleased that the commission took time to listen to the retail industry but we are still very much concerned that the guidelines recommend ‘banning-the-box’ on job applications and restrict employers’ ability to ensure the safety of their workers and customers,” NRF Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French said. “NRF will continue to hold conversations with the commission, stakeholders and other business organizations on the importance of background checks.”

This morning’s 4-1 vote follows an EEOC hearing last summer where advocacy groups urged the commission to completely bar employer-based criminal background screenings. Even though the new guidelines do not call for a complete ban on criminal background screening, the commission suggested that employers not ask applicants about criminal convictions on job applications.

“Retailers have both a legal requirement and moral responsibility to ensure a safe workforce and secure workplace,” French said. “Background screenings are an essential aspect of the hiring process for businesses and provide employers a better sense of the individuals they are putting into their workforce, representing their company and interacting with their customers.”

An NRF survey conducted last year found 97 percent of retailers use background screenings as part of their hiring process and that 87 percent use criminal background screenings.

As the world’s largest retail trade association and the voice of retail worldwide, NRF represents retailers of all types and sizes, including chain restaurants and industry partners, from the United States and more than 45 countries abroad. Retailers operate more than 3.6 million U.S. establishments that support one in four U.S. jobs – 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.5 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy. NRF’s Retail Means Jobs campaign emphasizes the economic importance of retail and encourages policymakers to support a Jobs, Innovation and Consumer Value Agenda aimed at boosting economic growth and job creation. www.nrf.com