Criminal Justice

Can You Get Hired With A Criminal Record?

Does your employer or potential employer run criminal background checks?  Surveys reveal that many employers run criminal background check prior to hiring an individual.  A 2010 survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) showed that 92% of employers who took part in the survey ran criminal background checks on some job applicants, and 73% stated they conducted criminal records checks on all applicants.  Many of these employers refuse to hire someone with a criminal record.

Companies Check Criminal Records

Running criminal background checks and excluding applicants with specific types of convictions might be a sensible way to promote workplace safety, protect company property, and protect your employees.  In addition, it can help companies avoid liability for injury to other third parties and clients.  For example, some states allow law suits for negligent hiring against employers who hire workers who they believe should have been flagged as dangerous or violent.

National or state law might require companies to refuse applicants with criminal records or those with particular types of convictions.  However, this does not mean it is reasonable to disqualify someone from a job who has had a brush with the criminal justice system.  An arrest might have been discriminatory or incorrect.

Not everyone who tries to get a job with a criminal record actually has a criminal record.  A criminal background check may lead to incorrect or incomplete information.  Some mistakes in criminal record background checks include:

  • Reports which are mismatched (include information regarding another person)
  • Reports that contain expunged or sealed records
  • Imperfect reports (for example, that do not include information regarding the ultimate disposition of the record, like that charges had been dropped or the person was exonerated)
  • Reports which offer data in a misleading manner (i.e. recording one crime numerous times)
  • Reports that do not correctly classify the crime committed

State Laws

Your state can control companies use of criminal records.

Many states have rules that restrict an employer’s ability to ask about an individuals criminal background or to run a criminal background check.  Lately, many cities and states have passed the “ban-the-box legislation,” which prohibits employers from inquiring about criminal background later on in the hiring procedure, like following an interview or after extending a conditional offer of employment.

If You Have A Criminal Record

Even though the law provides some protection to applicants having a criminal record, you will face an uphill battle with finding employment.  But do not lose hope: Many businesses hire individuals with a criminal record. Hiring managers recommend that applicants with a record should be straightforward and honest about their record and what they have learned from it.  Managers also suggested that applicants who have criminal records must work towards developing their skills.  For example,  doing volunteer work, taking classes or doing vocational training within their discipline, or doing freelance job.

In the event that your conviction was from when you were a juvenile or if it was a long time ago, then you may be able to get your record expunged or sealed.  Every jurisdiction has its own rules regarding which crimes (which offenders) are qualified.  If you are able to seal or expunge your record, the majority of states allow you to deny the conviction in interviews and application forms.  To put it simply, if an employer asks if you have ever been convicted of a crime,  you’re legally eligible to reply “no” since your record was expunged/sealed.  It may be worth some investigating to learn if this alternative is available for your case before you start looking for a job.

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