Employment Discrimination Blog

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Georgia to Ban State Employment Criminal Background Checks

Can I find a job even though I have a criminal record?

For job applicants seeking state employment, the applicant pool can be fiercely competitive. That fact, coupled with the existence of a criminal background, can preclude many otherwise-qualified applicants from pursuing and obtaining lucrative job positions. However, the state of Georgia – along with 13 other states – recently enacted legislation banning the practice of discriminating against potential employees based on their criminal background, which will significantly increase the number of eligible applicants for many of the state’s most sought-after jobs.

Under Georgia’s new “Ban the Box” policy, state agencies may no longer disqualify an employee with a criminal conviction on his or her record. While the prohibition only applies to public jobs, as opposed to the private sector, it is expected to allow otherwise ineligible candidates the opportunity to seek positive career advancements despite the presence of a criminal infraction. For many jobseekers, mistakes made during their youth and young adulthood have remained a critical roadblock to success, one which the Ban the Box bill hopes to eliminate.

Other states have enacted similar laws with much success. For instance, Hawaii began prohibiting criminal background discrimination in 1998 – and has since seen a dramatic reduction in recidivism rates among first-time offenders. Other states, such as California, Minnesota, and New Jersey have expanded anti-discrimination policy to private employers as well as hiring officials in the public sector. Moreover, nearly 100 cities and municipalities nationwide have enacted similar ordinances.

Applicants for special high-clearance jobs, such as those in law enforcement, corrections, or security positions are still subject to a criminal background review. However, the vast majority of Georgia state agencies now operate without the guise of criminal background discrimination – a welcome change for the thousands of former offenders hoping to reintegrate into society, which begins with a secure and stable employment position.

If you are experiencing employment discrimination and would like to discuss your rights with a knowledgeable attorney, please contact Pankey & Horlock, LLC right away by calling 770-670-6250. 

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The attorneys of Pankey & Horlock, LLC serve the entire state of Georgia, including Atlanta, Alpharetta, Auburn, Decatur, Doraville, Douglasville, Duluth, Kennesaw, Lawrenceville, Marietta, Stone Mountain, Dekalb County, Fulton County, Gwinnett County, and Cobb County, GA.

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