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Federal Employment And Past Convictions

Employment Discrimination Lawyer

If you are wondering whether or not a potential employer can ask about past convictions in an application, this page is for you. As an employment discrimination lawyer explains, you have applicant rights in terms of whether or not you have to include your past convictions on a job application. Job applicants with a criminal record often become concerned about whether or not they have to disclose their history on a job application.

Most applications have a box that asks the applicant to check whether or not they have a criminal record or conviction. If you choose ‘yes’, you may be asked to describe the circumstances of the crime. Furthermore, the chances of the employer denying you employment is high. That said, it is not recommended to lie on your application.

Ban-the-Box Legislation

Due to the known potential for discrimination, a large number of states, cities, and municipalities have adopted ban-the-box legislation. These rules limit what an employer can ask on a job application during the early stages of the hiring process. There are also laws and policies which mandate or recommend employers to consider the prospects’ qualifications rather than their criminal record. This legislation does not mean an employer cannot do a criminal record check or consider the impact that the record could have on your potential job duty.

State and Local Laws 

According to the National Employment Law Project, there are over 150 municipalities and 33 states that have adopted ban-the-box legislation. These include, but are certainly not limited to:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Maryland
  • New Jersey
  • Rhode Island
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

In addition to these 33 states, 11 states have mandated that employers remove any questions related to a criminal conviction. The objectives of these laws are to protect all job applicants with an equal opportunity in getting employment. Thus, a person with a criminal record should not be eliminated from consideration of the position. It is the right of an employer to carry out a background check, but only after a tentative offer has been made.

If a state does not have legislation that prohibits an employer from asking applicants about their criminal history, they do have a legal obligation to state whether or not they have been convicted of a crime in the last 10 years. Applicants who have a disorderly offense in the last 5 years are also required to put this on the application.

On the Federal Level

In 2018, a federal judge asked federal employers to consider whether an applicant’s criminal offenses could impact their ability to perform the job duty. The reason for this is to help convicted felons gain more opportunities for employment after time served. Job openings in fields that involve national security, intelligence, and law enforcement can ask the applicant about their criminal history in the first stage. The rule does not extend to federal contract workers.

If you feel that a potential employer has violated your rights and asked about your criminal background in a way they shouldn’t have, consider speaking with a legal team, similar to Disparti Law Group. In general, it is better that you be truthful and seek to impress the employer with your experience and qualifications. In doing so your criminal record may not be a hindrance. It’s empowering to know what your rights are during the interview and application process so that you don’t get taken advantage of.

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