NAACP Gets Involved in Lubbock-based EEOC Lawsuit

The NAACP believes Texas should not automatically disqualify every convicted felon for certain jobs.
By James Clark 

LUBBOCK, TX -- The NAACP filed a legal motion in Lubbock on Thursday to be heard in the ongoing lawsuit between the State of Texas and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

In November Texas chose the federal courthouse in Lubbock to claim new EEOC rules might force the state to hire convicted felons as school teachers or even DPS Troopers.

The lawsuit said in part, “The State either must violate state and local laws that prohibit the ‘individualized assessments’ that EEOC requires and consider convicted felons for hire as Troopers, jailers, and school teachers — or the State must ignore the EEOC’s enforcement guidance and risk an EEOC enforcement action.”

Lawyers for the federal government claim the EEOC guidelines were only suggestions and not hard-and-fast rules. The NAACP agreed with the EEOC in Thursday’s motion to intervene in the lawsuit. In that motion the NAACP told the story of Beverly Harrison, 58, from Dallas who was fired in 2013 as a school crossing guard when her employer found out she had a run-in the law in 1975.

“When she was 18 years old, Ms. Harrison pleaded no contest to the offense of aggravated assault,” the motion said.

“After two years of satisfactory compliance with the terms of her probation, the Dallas County Criminal Court issued an order discharging Ms. Harrison from probation early, setting aside the judgment of conviction, and ‘releas[ing her] from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the Judgment of Conviction.’”

Despite a clean record for 40 years the Motion said Harrison is, “ineligible to secure employment with certain governmental employers in the State of Texas”

The NAACP also issued a news release that said, “The Texas Attorney General should not be working to erect barriers to employment, particularly when those barriers disproportionately and unfairly affect workers of color.”

That’s not to say the NAACP believes every convicted felon should be eligible to become, for example, a police officer.

The news release also said, “Employers, including the State of Texas, can use background screening policies in a way that is fair to workers and safe for the public.”

According to court records neither lawyers for the State of Texas or for the EEOC object to the NAACP’s motion to intervene. U.S. District Court Judge Sam Cummings will decide if proposed intervention is permitted or discarded.
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