The Access Campaign is a campaign of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law designed to examine and dismantle barriers to gainful employment for persons with arrest and conviction records and negative credit histories.
Increasingly, employers conduct background checks when vetting potential employees. In 2003, eighty percent of large employers conducted criminal background checks. This practice is now far more prevalent. According to a January 2010 poll of members of the Society of Human Resource Management, 92 percent conducted background checks. Furthermore, the poll revealed that, when deciding whether to extend a job offer, 73 percent of employers would be influenced by a conviction of a non-violent misdemeanor and 31 percent would be influenced by an arrest with no conviction. Credit checks are also being used in the hiring process, with recent reports estimating that approximately 43% of employers use credit checks to screen job applicants. Due to a myriad of reasons, people of color are more likely to have a criminal history and negative credit history. Thus, any employer implementing a blanket policy prohibiting employment opportunities because of criminal history and/or credit histories will disproportionately exclude otherwise qualified applicants of color.
As a national leader in combating employment discrimination, the Lawyers’ Committee is uniquely equipped to mount a comprehensive effort to combat the misuse of background check information. The Access Campaign provides a multi-faceted approach to address the misuse of background and credit checks. The Access Campaign seeks to ensure that employers utilize the information gained from these checks responsibly and in accordance with their legal obligations. Additionally, the Access Campaign will engage in the critical work of shedding light on the problems caused by the misuse of credit and background checks as barriers to employment through educating workers on their rights, litigation, and advocating for increased enforcement efforts with government agencies.