By James Clark
LUBBOCK, TX – Could Texas be forced to hire convicted felons as law enforcement officers or school teachers? The State of Texas sued the federal government Monday in Lubbock federal court. The lawsuit implies dire consequences of relatively new federal rules.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott seeks to stop the enforcement of such rules by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Last year the EEOC developed guidelines that prohibit employers from using felony conviction in hiring decisions unless the employer can prove “the felony disqualification is job related for the position … and consistent with business necessity.”
The lawsuit says EEOC “instructs employers, including the State of Texas, to ignore state and local laws that disqualify convicted felons from holding certain jobs.”
The lawsuit then says, “Under Texas law, ‘[a] person who has been convicted of a felony is disqualified to be an officer’ for any law-enforcement agency anywhere in the State.”
The lawsuit continues, “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.”
As just one example the lawsuit claims EEOC recently sued BMW for refusing to employ people convicted of rape and murder.
The Texas lawsuit asks U.S. District Court Judge Sam Cummings to set aside the EEOC rules and prohibit the federal government from enforcing them against the State of Texas.
The federal government has not yet filed its side of the story in court records.