Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Ex-Felons and College Coaching

I noted below that the EEOC is now attacking broadly worded employment policies that prohibit the hiring of convicted felons.  The Commission's enforcement guidance is, at least in my opinion, badly thought out and will make it impossible for employers to maintain control over their hiring standards by using and enforcing criminal background checks.

An example of how this silly policy is going to play out arose recently in the college athletics context.  Up until 2011, the NCAA allowed people with nonviolent felony convictions more than seven years old to coach at NCAA-sanctioned youth basketball tournaments. The rule changed, and the NCAA now bars all individuals with felony conviction from coaching in these tournaments.

The rule change had an immediate impact on several youth and high school coaches with nonviolent drug convictions in their pasts. In this latest case, a girls high school basketball coach is suing because the NCAA rule prohibits him from taking his high school teams to NCAA sanctioned tournaments. These tournaments are important because they are frequently the only way that college coaches can see high school kids playing during the summer, a prime scouting period for basketball.

I'm thinking that the NCAA will be able to at least articulate a reason why it does not want felons associating with junior athletes in its sanctioned programs.  The potential liability issue is all too obvious to those of us who have dealt with employers that hired people with felony convictions, only to have that come back and bite the company on a negligent hire or negligent supervision lawsuit. Although not employment cases, how these lawsuits play out may provide some important help for the rest of us struggling with the EEOC guidance.


  1. Look up what constitutes a felony in your state law. You will find that it doesn't take much to commit a felony offense. Before judging the character of people based upon their abilities to find themselves on the other side of the law, you should practice critical discernment of just what it takes to become a "felon".

    1. Asha,
      When you spot the character judging in the post, please let me know. I'm not sure a person has an "ability" to engage in and get convicted for felonious behavior, either. The point of the post is to note how these cases will flesh out the issue of "what is the employer's legitimate interest in excluding people with felonies as a general rule." the EEOC and the courts haven't been much help.