Can Employers Hold Your Criminal Record Against You?

If you’re like many people with a criminal record, you already know that it can hold you back from doing the things you want to do – and that when you fill out a job application or an employer asks you about your criminal history, you’re supposed to tell the truth about your past.

But is it legal for an employer to hold your criminal record against you?

Here’s what you need to know.

Can Employers Hold Your Criminal Record Against You?

Federal law allows employers to ask about your criminal history. However, when employers do get that information from you, they can’t use it to discriminate against you when they’re not using it against other, similar candidates with similar criminal records.

Specifically, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 says that employers can’t treat people who have similar criminal records differently because of their nationality, race, color, sex or religion. That really means that if you’re African-American, the employer can’t treat you differently because of your race when there’s a Caucasian job applicant with a similar record.

It also prohibits employers from using policies or doing things that screen people based on their criminal histories if the policies or practices significantly disadvantage people protected under Title VII. Employers can’t use policies or practices that don’t really help them decide if someone is going to be a responsible, reliable or safe worker, either.

But employers can choose not to hire you based on your criminal history if they’d also choose not to hire anyone else with a criminal history. For example, if you have a criminal record that includes financial crimes, a bank may elect not to hire you. Employers like hospitals, daycare facilities, police departments, the military and nearly every other type of employer can also choose not to hire you based on your criminal record.

What to Do if Your Criminal Record is Keeping You From Getting a Job

If your criminal record is keeping you from getting a job, you may want to check into criminal record expungement or sealing. Some people are eligible for a second chance at a clean criminal record, depending on the offenses on their current criminal records.

Call us at 847-920-4540 right now to talk to a Chicago expungement and sealing attorney. If you’re eligible for criminal record clearing, we can help you.