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Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. QUAYLE. Madam Chair, I'm offering this amendment with my good friends and colleagues, Mr. Scalise, Mr. Stearns, and Mr. Woodall. It would block the new EEOC enforcement guidance that limits employers' ability to look at criminal records in their hiring decisions by prohibiting the use of funds for the implementation of this guidance.

Now, Madam Chair, it seems like every day, whether it be an Agency or a Commission, they come out with some new rule or guidance that really puts burdens on our small businesses and companies that are actually trying to expand and hire new workers.

Now, this guidance is particularly troubling because it sets up a lose-lose situation for our small businesses in my home State of Arizona and across the country. You see, these businesses are going to have two choices.

One, they can either not actually go through with a criminal background check, which would open them up for a claim of negligent hiring if a worker actually goes and commits a crime on the premises; or they're going to open themselves up to litigation from the Federal Government, from the EEOC or the DOJ because they believe that their objective use of actual criminal background check is going to actually have a disparate impact.

Now, I don't think that that's the choice that our businesses should be given. They have to have a different choice, a choice that allows them to expand, allows them to hire more workers, and allows them to put forth the proper procedures so they know they're hiring people that are not going to have criminal activity.

The reason this one thing came to my attention was I spoke to a constituent of mine who owns a hotel in my district, and he says, Look, I have to have criminal background checks for my employees because some of them are going into rooms of the guests to clean, to check on things, and they have valuables there. Now, if I don't do a criminal background check and they actually go in and steal something and they did have a burglary rap against them or a robbery rap, these are the things that they would actually get sued for for negligent hiring.

So this amendment makes sure that no funds will be used to implement this new guidance. And it is especially important to do because the EEOC has recently been very, very litigious, and there have been two recent Federal court cases that actually smack down some of the EEOC's claims for a frivolous lawsuit and gave back millions of dollars to these companies who were charged by the EEOC. So this is why this amendment is important.

This is actually going to get rid of some of the burdens and some of the uncertainties that are placed upon our businesses, and I think this is the time to do it. We don't need to put any more burdens on companies that want to expand and hire because, if you're going to put this into place and enforce it, you're actually going to just lead to people not hiring because you're going to set them up for failure.

So I urge my colleagues to support this amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. QUAYLE. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

I do agree with the gentleman from Pennsylvania that we need to make sure that we are allowing people to get good jobs. And that's the biggest problem that I have with this guidance is that, when you're setting up other companies where they have a lose-lose proposition of whether they're going to either have the possibility of litigation from the Federal Government or the possibility of litigation because they have a negligent hiring, you're actually setting up a situation where they just won't hire. They won't hire anybody because they're not going to want to put themselves in that situation.

And the other thing that we've been seeing is that this got a lot of concern from the Appropriations Committee in the Senate as well, saying that we have to look and make sure that there are not these unintended consequences where we're going to be putting up businesses to fail, and that we're actually putting on these burdens that are not going to let companies expand, that are not going to let companies hire. And these are the sorts of things that continue to put this uncertainty in the private sector.

It seems day in and day out that the Federal Government does this, whether it's an Agency or Commission, and that's why I think this is a very important amendment.


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