How To Get A Job With A Criminal Record?

Job hunting is stressful enough already without a criminal record. With stats provided by the National Employment Law Project suggesting that 65 million US citizens have a conviction or arrest orders against them, it is not uncommon to find an employee with a criminal record. Things get a lot patchy if you have a criminal record as employers are reluctant to hire such people.

Employers are always wary of hiring applicants with criminal records. While some consider certain offense to disqualify a candidate, most employers refuse to consider applications with any sort of scrape with the law.

If you are someone struggling to get a job because of your criminal background, this post is to help you understand how things work in such a situation and how you can get a job using your legal protection rights.

Why Employers Check Criminal Records

An employer’s prime responsibility is towards their current employees. To provide a safe workplace, protect company property and provide protection against predatory or abusive behavior to their employees. Negligent hiring is an offense in some states and it makes employers vulnerable to lawsuits due to any anti-social activity. In certain occupations like that of a police officer or a prison guard it is required by federal or state law to disqualify applicants with certain criminal records.

That being said, such laws don’t imply that any person with minor criminal disputes should be disqualified without consideration. It can make getting employed worse for people who are arrested or convicted discriminately or erroneously. For instance, an arrest made 10 or 12 years ago for certain crimes, do not provide a relevant criminal record of an employee at present.

There are ways to protect your right to get employment when you qualify for a job, but before that let’s take a look at the problems with the present criminal background checks.

Criminal Background Check Fallbacks

Not every person who is disqualified for having a criminal background actually has a criminal record. As per the National Consumer Law Center, incomplete and inaccurate information in the checks result in disqualification of the candidates. Most common problems with criminal background checks include:

  • Mismatched information in reports
  • Incomplete reports
  • Expunged or sealed records in reports
  • Misclassification of the offense committed
  • Misleading information in reports

Arrest rates in the United States are also dependent on race. According to a report by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), arrest of African Americans and Latinos is twice or thrice as compared with arrest of other races.

Know Your Rights

The best way to protect yourself from any discrimination at workplace is to know what legal rights you hold for the protection of your application. There are 2 federal laws that provide legal protection to applications and employees against unfair disqualification due to criminal records. The laws are the Fair Credit Reporting Act or FCRA and the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Fair Credit Reporting Act

The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires background check agencies to follow the recommended guidelines when preparing consumer reports and running the background checks. Some major highlights of the FCRA are:

  • Unless the position pays for more than $75,000 a year, the agency cannot include arrest records older than 7 years
  • Time limit is not applicable to conviction records
  • Providing accurate report is the responsibility of the agency, that also requires them to include updates on the record
  • Employers hiring 3rd party background check agency must get written consent from the applicant
  • Applicant must be provided with a copy of background check report for his views, he/she can dispute the information included in the report
  • Applicant can file complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau against non-hiring due to the inaccurate report

In addition to this some states have their individual laws regarding criminal background checks of applicants.

Title VII

The Title VII is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This law provides protection against discrimination in any aspect of employment. As per the policy guidance by the EEOC, applicant disqualified based on criminal records, can make two types of discrimination claims:

  • If the employer is discriminating based on nationalities or races, it can make for a “disparate treatment” claim.
  • If the hiring policy that is uniformly applied to every applicant has a disproportionately negative effect, then it makes for a “disparate impact” claim.

These two federal laws protect your right to employment. If you feel that you qualify for a job and yet is being discriminated because of your criminal background you can seek legal aide.

How to deal with a criminal record

You may have the law by your side to protect your status as an applicant with a criminal record; job hunting can still be a lot tougher for you. However, you can do your best to increase your chances of getting hired. According to a recent survey by CareerBuilder, it was revealed that half of the companies surveyed hired employees with a known criminal background.

Emphasis more on these tips that hiring managers advice:

  • Be honest about your background
  • Build your skills and experience on resume by freelancing, vocational training or doing volunteer work
  • Know about the employer’s policy against the crime you were convicted for

If you are truly motivated to work even with a criminal background, getting hired is not the only way to the employment. You can still work on your own or start a business.

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