(From Nolo.) Given that nearly 65,000,000 Americans have an arrest history, now more than ever we are seeing new laws to address the legal rights of a potential new hire when it comes to his/her criminal history.
There are two current federal protections in place to shield job applicants from discrimination based solely on an arrest and or conviction history. I.e. :
Federal Protections for Applicants With a Criminal Record
– Title VII: Discrimination Based on Criminal Records
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in every aspect of employment, including screening practices and hiring. Because arrest and incarceration rates are higher for African Americans and Latinos, an employer that adopts a blanket policy of excluding all applicants with a criminal record might be guilty of race discrimination.
– The Fair Credit Reporting Act: Inaccurate Records
The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) addresses the issue of inaccurate criminal records. Criminal background checks may include errors, such as information on convictions that have been expunged, multiple listings of the same offense, incomplete information (for example, failing to report that the person was exonerated of a crime or that charges were dropped), misclassification of crimes, and even records that belong to someone else entirely.
The FCRA imposes obligations on employers who request criminal background checks and on the firms that provide them. Employers must:
- Get the applicants written consent ahead of time.
- Notify the applicant if the employer intends to disqualify him or her based on the contents of the report. The employer must also give the applicant a copy of the report.
- Give the applicant notice after the employer makes a final decision not to hire him or her based on the information in the report.
Each state also has employment laws on the book in regard to hiring those with a criminal past.
New York Law on Use of Criminal Records
New York gives applicants a number of protections when it comes to employer use of criminal records in making hiring decisions. Employers may not ask about or consider arrests or charges that did not result in conviction, unless they are currently pending, when making hiring decisions. They also may not ask about or consider records that have been sealed or youthful offender adjudications.
Employer with at least ten employees may not refuse to hire an applicant based on a criminal conviction unless hiring the applicant would pose an unreasonable risk to property or to public or individual safety, or the conviction bears a direct relationship to the job. The law defines a “direct relationship” strictly to mean that the nature of the criminal conduct underlying the conviction has a direct bearing on the applicant’s fitness or ability to perform one or more of the duties or responsibilities that are necessary related to the job.
An employer that considers an applicant’s prior conviction must look at these eight factors:
- the state’s public policy to encourage the hiring of those who have been convicted of crimes
- the duties and responsibilities that are necessarily related to the job
- whether the conviction has a bearing on the applicant’s ability to perform those duties and responsibilities
- how much time has passed since the conviction(s)
- how old the applicant was at the time of the offense
- the seriousness of the offense
- any information the applicant provides about his or her rehabilitation, and
- the employer’s legitimate interest in protecting property and the safety and welfare of individuals and the public.
An employer who decides not to hire someone based on a criminal conviction must, upon the applicant’s request, provide a written statement of the reasons for the decision. This statement must be provided within 30 days of the request.
Look here for state-by-state hiring regulations and information as they relate to applicants with a criminal history.
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