Can Your Criminal Background Hurt You When Job Searching?

A criminal record could be an obstacle you’ll have to overcome when on the job hunt. Surveys show that as many as 92 percent of employers check criminal records when looking to hire new employees. However, you still have rights and options when it comes to background checks.

In New York, job applicants are protected by a number of federal and state laws that prevent discrimination based on a criminal background. Title VII, a portion of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, places protections on nearly every element of employment, including the hiring process. While employers have the right to consider the criminal records of its applicants, it may only use these records to exclude them from jobs under certain circumstances.

For instance, if the degree of the criminal offense or conduct was of such a grievous nature as it poses a risk to the employer and coworkers, the employer may be justified in turning the applicant down. However, if it was a relatively minor offense and/or a great deal of time has passed since the offense, the employer cannot discriminate based on the record.

New York goes beyond the federal protections and offers applicants even greater safeguards. For instance, while employers may look at arrest records, they cannot base an employment decision on an arrest that did not result in a conviction (unless it is pending). Further, if the employer has at least ten employees, it may not use arrest records to justify non-hires unless it can prove that hiring the potential new employee would pose an unreasonable or unnecessary risk to property or workplace safety.

If an employer chooses not to hire an applicant based on his or her criminal record, the applicant has the right to request a written statement of the reason and the employer must furnish it within 30 days of the request.

A criminal record does not have to prevent you from getting work. If you have been denied a job due to your criminal background, you may be able to appeal the decision. Contact a skilled New York employment lawyer with Derek T. Smith Law Group, PLLC to learn more.

 

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