AUSTIN (Legal Newsline) – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed a lawsuit Monday against the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for allegedly limiting the ability of employers to exclude convicted felons from employment. 

Abbott’s lawsuit alleges that the EEOC’s hiring guidelines unlawfully prohibit Texas employers and its agencies from imposing the state’s ban on hiring convicted felons for certain jobs. Texas state law prohibits certain state agencies from employing convicted felons. The EEOC’s guidelines prohibit Texas from categorically excluding convicted felons for certain jobs.

“Once again, the Obama administration is overreaching its legal authority by trying to impose hiring rules on states that violate state sovereignty and – in this instance – endanger public safety,” Abbott said. “Texas has an obligation to enforce its absolute ban on hiring convicted felons for certain jobs such as state troopers, school teachers and jailers.”

Abbott alleges that the EEOC could unlawfully prosecute employers like the state of Texas who use felony convictions to bar employment. The lawsuit alleges the guidelines unfairly encourage disqualified applicants to file discrimination claims for possible violations of the EEOC guidelines.

Abbott’s lawsuit alleges the EEOC’s hiring guidelines are illegal because they overstep the commission’s statutory authority and could jeopardize the safety of Texans.

The suit requests a declaratory judgment that Texas and its agencies can maintain and enforce its state laws regarding the ban on hiring felons, a declaration that the EEOC cannot enforce its guidelines against the state, an injunction barring the EEOC from issuing right-to-sue letters to individuals seeking to pursue this type of discrimination charge against the state and a judgment holding and setting aside the EEOC’s hiring guidelines as unlawful.

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