I have written from time to time about the “war on standards” being waged by the modern civil rights movement — an attempt to bulldoze standards of conduct and achievement that stand in the way of equal distribution of society’s benefits and prizes to Blacks. Examples of such standards include, but are not limited to, (1) certain employment criteria — e.g., tests and criminal background checks — (2) some criminal laws — e.g. prohibitions against possessing certain narcotics, and (3) certain school policies — e.g. admissions and disciplinary standards.
Naturally, the Obama administration has participated in more than one front of the war on standards. Here, for example, is a post about its commitment to attacking school disciplinary standards.
As for employment practices, the government is in the vanguard. It has filed lawsuits under anti-discrimination law against several employers who use criminal background checks to screen applicants for employment.
To give you an idea of the kind of policy the government believes is unlawful, BMW, one of the defendants, excludes from consideration applicants who have been convicted of “Murder, Assault & Battery, Rape, Child Abuse, Spousal Abuse (Domestic Violence), Manufacturing of Drugs, Distribution of Drugs, [and] Weapons Violations,” as well as “theft, dishonesty, and moral turpitude.”
Attorneys Michael Carvin and Eric Dreiband have written about this litigation in Forbes Magazine. They begin by noting the devolution of the civil rights movement implicit in the government’s misuse of anti-discrimination law in its pending suits:
At the heart of the nation’s anti-discrimination laws is the principle most famously articulated by Martin Luther King, Jr., that persons should “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act codifies that principle by prohibiting discrimination in employment on the basis of the irrelevant characteristics of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
But the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which enforces Title VII, has turned the principle on its head. As part of its campaign to seek relief for convicted criminals under Title VII, the EEOC has adopted an enforcement policy making it presumptively unlawful for an employer to consider an applicant’s prior criminal history as a basis for denying employment.
So even though the purpose of Title VII is to prevent employers from discriminating against individuals based on certain criteria precisely because they say nothing about an individual’s character or fitness, the EEOC now seeks to prevent or limit employers from considering a factor—serious criminal conduct—that bears directly on these job-related considerations.
It gets even more absurd:
[I]n one pending lawsuit, the EEOC alleges that the company’s use of criminal history in hiring is sex discrimination against men, white or minority, because men disproportionately commit more crimes than women. Ironically, by seeking Title VII relief for men but not for women, even when women have been denied employment for committing similar crimes, the EEOC itself is excluding certain women because of their sex—something that Title VII expressly condemns.
Likewise, in its case against BMW, EEOC decided not to seek relief for 18 criminals because they are, according to EEOC, “non-black.” It appears that, to EEOC, some criminals are worth more than others, depending on their gender and race.
As a final bit of irony, the government itself screens employees for criminal background. Carvin and Drieband note:
Government regulations require a “suitability” review, which includes consideration of “[c]riminal or dishonest conduct,” because this bears on “a person’s character or conduct that may have an impact on the integrity or efficiency of the service.”…If the government is entitled to have law-abiding workers, then surely private employers are as well.
Standards provide us with a compass. The absurdities associated with the EEOC’s war on standards demonstrates how lost one can become without a compass.
NOTE: I should add that, before my retirement from the practice of law, I defended one of the suits discussed above — the one in which the EEOC alleged discrimination against blacks and white males, but not white females.