The Job Killers Insist You Hire Criminals

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released Enforcement Guidance in April, 2012 saying that employers who rely too heavily on criminal background checks to screen potential employees may violate the Civil Rights Act. Meanwhile, the President and his economic team want to saddle employers with a minimum wage increase, which will make those with a criminal record even less attractive to hire.

Making it harder to screen out potential bad employees and making it more expensive to hire people is practically a mandate against hiring.

The EEOC’s ruling came out last April, and they tried to spin it as a simple consolidation of past rules. “The Guidance builds on longstanding court decisions and existing guidance documents that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (Commission or EEOC) issued over twenty years ago.”

“An employer’s use of an individual’s criminal history in making employment decisions may, in some instances, violate the prohibition against employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.”

The EEOC’s recommended Best Practice? Wait until you get to know an applicant before obtaining his criminal record.

Some states require employers to wait until late in the selection process to ask about convictions.108 The policy rationale is that an employer is more likely to objectively assess the relevance of an applicant’s conviction if it becomes known when the employer is already knowledgeable about the applicant’s qualifications and experience.109 As a best practice, and consistent with applicable laws,110 the Commission recommends that employers not ask about convictions on job applications and that, if and when they make such inquiries, the inquiries be limited to convictions for which exclusion would be job related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity.

While the EEOC is busy trying to strong-arm businesses into hiring ex-cons and presuming all business owners are racist, the White House pivots to jobs by making them harder to get.

Talking Points Memo cites House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) saying:

“[W]hen you raise the price of employment, guess what happens? You get less of it,” Boehner told reporters Wednesday morning during a Capitol Hill press conference with the House GOP leadership. “And what happens when you take away the first couple of rungs on the economic ladder? You make it harder for people to get on the ladder. Our goal is to get people on the ladder and help them climb that ladder so they can live the American dream.”

While holding his hands to his ears hollering “LA-LA-LA-LA,” Paul Krugman writes in the New York Times that “there just isn’t any evidence that raising the minimum wage near current levels would reduce employment.”

Notice the phrasing, “would reduced employment.” Krugman might find it more difficult to claim that raising the minimum wage would have no impact on future employment.

TPM quotes an unnamed Journolist member White House official:

The official said Boehner’s hypothesis is based on the theory that when the cost of employment goes up, business want to hire fewer people. But that’s only part of what happens, the official said, arguing that studies find that it is offset by reduced turnover, more motivated workers and a more productive workforce. The official said studies find that the second effect tends to be about the same as the first effect when it comes to employment.

Reduced turnover may not be helpful, depending on how it’s achieved. Employers don’t like hiring new people or training them, but that is how the unemployed get a chance. For current employees, turnover represents a chance to move up the ladder.  Lowering turnover with a minimum wage increase, to the extent that it does anything, will keep people unemployed because the cost is too high, and keep those who are hired from advancing.

The only way a minimum wage increase lowers turnover is by keeping people from striving to better themselves.

People are not more motivated because of an increase in the minimum wage, but just the opposite. A minimum wage increase makes it harder to get a raise, which lowers motivation. Rewarding their productive work motivates people. Giving them things doesn’t.

In France they have low turnover, because it takes a lot of work to fire someone.

In France it is not possible to hire employees ” at will ” in other words, once you have taken on an employee you may only dismiss him or her for a specific reason.

The reason or ground must be one which is recognised by French Statute (i.e. the codified law to be found in the Code du Travail) or by French Case Law.

The dismissal procedure on disciplinary grounds is very formalised and failure to follow the procedural steps, even where the dismissal is manifestly justified on the merits, may result in the Courts overturning the dismissal and ordering the reinstatement of the employee.

Virtually all disciplinary measures are required to be in writing and generally need to be brought to the employee’s attention by a registered letter sent to his or her home address, pursuant to a formal meeting between employer and employee.

As a result of those measures and the mindset they embody, unemployment in France has stayed well above 8% for most of the last 30 years.

Make it illegal to screen for criminals, and employers will be less likely to hire anyone.

Make it hard to let someone go, and employers won’t hire them in the first place.

Make it more expensive to hire, and you keep people unemployed.