Employer No Hire Polices Because of Criminal Pasts

Apparently certain employers discriminate in their hiring practices.  According to a recent report in the National Employment Law Project, or NELP,  their survey of Cragi's Lit reveals that no hire policies are routine.   According to their Press Release, NELP posted the following--

"The new report highlights the widespread and illegal use of blanket no-hire policies by providing numerous examples of online job ads posted on Craig's List, including some by major corporations, that effectively bar significant portions of the U.S. population from work opportunities.  Because of their blunt impact and extreme overreach, these blanket no-hire policies have become the subject of increasing litigation, attracting heightened scrutiny from the courts and concerned policymakers.  At the same time, 92 percent of employers conduct criminal background checks, according to a 2010 Society for Human Resources Management survey.


The fast-growing use of criminal background checks casts an extraordinarily wide net, potentially ensnaring millions of Americans who have an arrest or other record that shows up in a routine check,” said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project.  “These background checks are supposed to promote safety in the workplace, but many employers have gone way overboard, refusing to even consider highly qualified applicants just because of an old arrest or conviction.  They’re not even bothering to ask what the arrest or conviction was for, how far in the past it was, whether it’s in any way related to the job, or what the person has done with his or her life since,” said Owens.

I found this alarming.  I also found this odd.   For one thing the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and various labor laws, both state and federal, place limitations on the length of time conviction records can be considered for employment purposes.  Not only is the length of time a factor, but the actual crime can be a factors as well. Misdemeanors are given more leniencies in some states as well as first offender.


That being said, most of our clients often do not take into consideration old criminal records. At least they don't rule an employment applicant ineligible only because of a criminal past. Of course, violent felonies can give employers pause, but misdemeanors and infractions don't seem to carry the gravitas that this report would intimate.   Most employers that we service are far more concerned about skill sets and employee reliability than distant infractions and felonies.  In certain industries, trucking, industrial, criminal records are fairly common and, frankly, certain employers wouldn't have a workforce if they excluded job applicants with past convictions.

As I noted, violent crimes are another matter.   Employers when conducting employment screening will be much more discerning about violent crimes in an employment candidate'sbackground check.  The fear of course is not so much what the employee did in the past, but whether or not he would act out on the job.   Workplace violence is always a major consideration.  That being said, employees with violent criminal histories may not be the ones to act out on the job.  In fact, in some cases they become models of restraint, realizing any violent action, plus their past history would most definitely cause them to lose their jobs.

In fairness to the NELP  report, it does list prominent companies who advertise positions on Craig's List and specify that those with criminal records need not apply.   Having no idea what the policies of these companies are, it's not my place to give an opinion of their practices.  I do know that in most cases criminal records are neither violent or extensive.  They are often modest infractions.

I have known a few people who  when younger got themselves in trouble when they were younger and then straightened out their lives and went on to become reputable employees.   Some of these people became professionals, or key managers, professors and deans at universities.   It is hardly above the pale that someone messes up at one point and then turns around his life.   So denying people second chances, or denying them employment, doesn't make sense.

It is not a perfect world, after all.  In case you haven't noticed.

As one client said. .."Hey, he was the best man for the job.  Had the skill sets I needed.   Because he did something fifteen years ago, what do I care?"


Views: 5820

Comment by Sandra McCartt on May 14, 2011 at 11:28am
No offense taken. My comment "it is what it is" related totally to employer policies of not hiring convicted felons. I would say the same thing about a policy of not hiring someone who tanked a drug test even though I might not think it was problem if they smoked a joint a month ago when another candidate had been drunk as a skunk five nights a week but sailed through the drug test. Individual situations have all sorts of twists and turns but companies have to have general policies that they adhere to even if there are individual situations where "it's just not right".

I don't think it's right that I have to go out to dinner then have to sit next to somebody's screaming obnoxious kids or have to look at some dumb ass duck who wears a baseball cap in a restaurant but it is what it is.
My attitude about David or Goliath depends on which one can control their kids in public and which one has enough sense to take their nasty cap off inside.

We all have our hot buttons. ;)
Comment by Gordon Basichis on May 14, 2011 at 1:05pm
Ah, the screaming, obnoxious kids in the restaurant system...usually punctuated with the occasional "now honey,  please, you shouldn't really do that."   My favorite, especially first thing in the morning at breakfast or in a decent restaurant where you are trying to relax.  So adorable. A living poster for the need for greater contraception.  But I digress.
Comment by Valentino Martinez on May 14, 2011 at 2:24pm
Damn, dinged again...I love nasty caps with their smell of fermented sweat long converted to an odor that can throw off a bloodhound for weeks.  I'm afraid since the balding began that nasty caps have become the preferred look...but in my defense I do advertise various universities, events and sports teams that have a following of sorts.  And depending on the restaurant, my nasty cap(s) tend to fit in with the others in a jubilee of sorts.
Comment by Valentino Martinez on May 14, 2011 at 2:27pm
...but I digress, or rather, regress.
Comment by Sandra McCartt on May 15, 2011 at 12:18am
Take your cap off in the house. I know your mother told you that and she meant it. Nasty damn baseball caps much more offensive than second hand smoke almost as bad as "used kids". I used to keep business cards that belonged to the director of Planned Parenthood to drop off to the rude people who drag babies to restaurants where the kid and everybody else is miserable.

It's just not right.


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