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Hans Bader uncovers a Catch-22 in EEOC enforcement

In his piece Obama EEOC Wipes Out Jobs By Making Hiring More Difficult featured on examiner.com, Hans Bader, senior attorney and counsel for special projects at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, outlines his position that President Obama's Equal Employment Opportunity Commission appointees are expanding the agency's enforcement authority via overly broad statutory interpretation. Such interpretation, according to Hans, in effect creates a Catch-22 where businesses attempting to avoid EEOC suits by taking compliance measures get sued anyway for violating other conflicting laws or regulations in their effort to employ those very compliance measures. Such aggressive enforcement has already deterred businesses from hiring new employees.

Hans points to some interesting examples, such as the following:

The EEOC has sued employers who sensibly refuse to hire as truckers people with a history of heavy drinking and alcoholism. It has done so even though if employers do hire alcoholics for such safety-sensitive positions, they will be sued under state tort laws when the alcoholic driver has an accident. The EEOC's demand that such employers disregard histories of alcoholism is based on an extremely expansive, and dubious, interpretation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The EEOC is suing employers over the use of criminal histories in hiring, and harassing employers who conduct criminal background checks, even though employers who hire criminals end up getting sued when those employees commit crimes while on the employer's payroll. The EEOC's demands thus place employers in an impossible dilemma where they can be sued no matter what they do.

The EEOC is also suing employers who don't bend sensible workplace rules to accommodate the obese, claiming that obesity is a disability. And it is suing employers who take into account bad credit and financial histories in hiring, even though failure to take that into account can lead to lawsuits against banks and property managers by customers.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.