Job Applicants with Criminal Records: Know Your Rights

, Job Applicants with Criminal Records: Know Your Rights


If you have a criminal record, no matter how long ago the incident occurred or how minor it was, you’re probably already familiar with the effect it has on your ability to get a job. It’s not fair that employers can, and often do, use your criminal history against you, so if you are eligible for an expungement or sealing of your criminal records, it’s a good idea to call a Chicago expungement lawyer who can help

However, not everyone is eligible for expungement in Illinois

If you’re one of the unfortunate people who’s stuck with a criminal record that follows you everywhere you go, you still have rights–particularly when you’re applying for jobs–and it’s important that you know what they are.

Job Applicants with Criminal Records: Know Your Rights

While criminal charges are generally private information, convictions are public. Your arrest record may also appear in the cursory background check that many employers do before hiring, so you’re up against a few roadblocks when you submit a job application — even if you never disclose your history to the employer.

Fortunately, the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (enforced by the Federal Trade Commission) prevents outside investigators from reporting on arrests and expunged convictions. However, potential employers can conduct the investigations themselves; they can also directly ask you about anything they find in your past.

Different employers conduct different types of background checks. Workplaces that would require you to care for children, the elderly or the disabled are most likely going to conduct a thorough background check looking for drug convictions, abuse convictions and other convictions that would make them consider you a hazard; on the other hand, a restaurant where you’ll be managing large amounts of money may care less about a small drug possession conviction than they do about a theft or embezzlement conviction.

How to Face Down Past Convictions

If you can’t get your records sealed or expunged, it may be best to wait until your potential employer brings it up. (Think of it this way: when your parents asked you a question as a kid, they already knew the answer. Potential employers are the same way.)

When your potential employer asks, be straightforward. Explain the situation in as few words as possible, letting them know that you’re not the same person as you were when you were convicted of the crime. Many employers will value your honesty and appreciate that you didn’t try to “pull one over” on them, and you might be surprised that they’ll see past your record and look at who you are today.