Employment Discrimination Blog

Monday, December 21, 2015

Ban the Box Has Reached the Federal Government

Can a federal employer ask if you have ever been convicted of a crime?

For years, public and private employers have been permitted to ask potential employees whether they have a criminal record.  This is usually done by asking an applicant to check a box if they have ever been convicted of a crime.  Now, President Obama has banned the box.

When you are applying for a job you may be asked whether you have ever been convicted of a crime.  Why?  Because employers want to do everything they can to ensure that they are hiring a trustworthy individual.  This makes sense from an employer’s perspective, but it may not be in the best interest of a potential employee.    Serving time in jail or prison is supposed to be punitive as well as  rehabilitative.  This means that it should prepare the person to live a crime-free life.  Unfortunately, the stigma attached to being incarcerated is one that employer’s focus on and one that might lead to employment discrimination.

In fact,  65-70% of those who have been released from prison in the last year are unable to find work.  One study found that it is 50% less likely that an individual with a criminal record will land a job as opposed to a person without a criminal record.  Asking applicants to check a box if they have a criminal record enables employers to discriminate at the first juncture in the hiring process.  Removing the box will allow qualified applicants to be considered without their criminal record disqualifying them at the first opportunity.  This is not to say that employers will never be able to inquire about an applicant’s criminal record.  They just must do say at a later stage in the hiring process.

If you have a criminal record and are having a hard time finding a job, a discrimination attorney may be able to help you.


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