How Fingerprint Background Checks Affect Black Job Seekers

Susan Burton: “Fingerprinting discriminates against people of color, who are far more likely to be arrested than their white peers.”

An in-depth analysis of the ramifications of fingerprinting, an otherwise effective security and safety measure, shows that using the technology to conduct background checks aimed at screening jobseekers does not level the playing field for African-Americans.

A perfect example of this is the fingerprint background checks requirement put forward by employers for the individuals applying to become Uber or Lyft drivers in L.A.

Such a practice can only be explained as a blatant effort to exclude black people, who are heavily policed and more likely to have an arrest record, from the job market.

According to Susan Burton, the founder and executive director of A New Way of Life, a leadership and reentry program for formerly incarcerated women, fingerprinting is neither safe nor simple, and creates deep-rooted risks and dangers for Black people.

“By now it’s been well-documented that fingerprinting discriminates against people of color, who are far more likely to be arrested than their white peers,” she wrote. “Requiring fingerprint-based background checks is not only misguided policy, it’s an economic catastrophe for the very people who need these jobs the most.”

Considering how inherent the problem of Black unemployment is, these background checks prevent African-American jobseekers from getting employed.

It is quite true that black folks are more likely to be arrested than whites even when they find themselves in similar situations. Therefore, to deny them a job just because they failed a background check due to a simple record of being arrested though not convicted is totally unfair.

Moreover as a nation that believes in giving people second chances, those who have paid their debts to society shouldn’t also be discriminated against.

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