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Colorado joins debate about employment discrimination

Ever since there have been anti-discrimination laws on the books, there have been countless debates and legal wrangling as to what constitutes employment discrimination. Each state has seen many different cases involving employment discrimination and has had to narrow down what is acceptable and what is not. Recently, Colorado, along with several other states, has joined the legal debate about whether or not conducting criminal background checks on potential employees constitutes discrimination.

There have been recent lawsuits filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against large corporations including BMW Manufacturing Co. and Dollar General regarding this issue. The attorney general of Colorado and several other states object to the lawsuits. The suits specifically claim that an employer using a criminal background check on prospective employees is a form of discrimination.

The attorney generals who have come forward voicing opposition to the merits of the lawsuits contend that having a criminal background or conviction does not put you into a protected class, such as those of a specific religion, race, age, creed or gender. They consider the move to ban the use of criminal background checks before hiring individuals a 'gross federal overreach.' They see the background checks as a legitimate tool for employers.

It remains to be seen how the issue of criminal background checks and their use by employers will play out in Colorado and the other states. However, employment discrimination comes is all forms and can taint a company, workplace or group of investors. Anyone who feels they are the victim of, or even those accused of, employment discrimination should be fully aware of any changing laws in Colorado and how those changes may or may not affect their case.

Source:, "AG Schmidt: Ban on employee background checks a ‘gross federal overreach'," July 30, 2013

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