On June 9th Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law a bill directed at moving companies and the former sex offenders they may hire.
According to Tampa’s NBC-2, the new law “…would penalize moving companies up to $5,000 if they fail to inform customers that an employee on staff on the customer’s property was convicted of a sexual offense.” In writing, by the way.
The key here is that the duty to inform the customer lies with the moving company. This means that the moving company is compelled to run background checks on all employees, present and potential, in order to comply with the law.
This, in turn, must be done in compliance with the legalities set forth by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC states that while it is legal to inquire as to an employee’s criminal background, there are restrictions – and some can be quite tricky to adhere to. As the EEOC puts it,
“…employers should not use a policy or practice that excludes people with certain criminal records if the policy or practice significantly disadvantages individuals of a particular race, national origin, or another protected characteristic, and does not accurately predict who will be a responsible, reliable, or safe employee.”
There is enough gray area here to make it difficult for companies, including moving companies, to maintain a clear set of hiring policies unless they hire either (a) no one with a criminal record or (b) everyone with a criminal record. And is either of these options really feasible when you’re trying to grow your moving company?
Between complying with the EEOC and adhering to this new law (which goes into effect October 1st), moving companies in Florida are going to have to walk a tricky line.
Meanwhile, in New York…
We revisit the case of two former sex offenders appealing their termination by out-of-state Allied Van Lines.
The individuals in question were fired when their employer Astro, a moving company in New York State, entered into a contractual agreement with Chicago-based Allied Van Lines. That contract “included a provision requiring Astro to abide by Allied hiring bylaws. As part of Allied workplace regulations, anyone with a prior sexual offense fails a screening and cannot work with the company.” The two employees subsequently filed a lawsuit based on New York human rights laws which “…forbid job terminations based on criminal history background checks.”
The case went to the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals before being remanded to the New York Court of Appeals where it was determined that out-of-state companies employing people in New York, whether directly or through an affiliate as was the case with Astro, must conform their policies to New York laws.
No word on whether the two employees have returned to Astro.