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WV AG Morrisey joins eight other states in criminal background check support

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West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has joined eight other states in penning a letter to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The letters express concern about a commission lawsuit that claims employers' use of criminal background checks for potential employees constitutes unlawful discrimination under federal law.

Morrisey's specific concern for West Virginia is that the EEOC policy could affect state laws that restrict people with felony convictions from working at or owning a pain clinic.

The EEOC lawsuits were filed against Dollar General and BMW Manufacturing Co. LLC. The lawsuits assert that refusing to hire someone for failing a criminal background check often violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

But the attorneys general say they think the EEOC wants to expand the Title VII protection to former criminals, which is something Congress has never required.

The AG letter states that the lawsuits are "misguided and a quintessential example of gross federal overreach." Attorneys general from Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, South Carolina and Utah join Morrisey in his letter.

"Our state has a number of laws that seek to protect the public interest by requiring potential hires to pass criminal background checks," Morrisey said in a news release.

The attorneys general disagree that race discrimination is the EEOC's concern.

"These lawsuits defy common sense," Morrisey said. "An employer may have any number of nondiscriminatory reasons for not wanting to hire people who cannot pass a criminal background check."

Dollar General was West Virginia's 28th largest private employer in 2012, according to information from WorkForce West Virginia numbers cited by Morrisey.