Worried that your criminal record may be an issue during your job search? An estimated 65 million Americans (1 in 4) have arrest or conviction records that may come up on a background check. A survey found an astonishing 92% of employers checked a job applicant’s criminal history, at least for some roles. While you have no control over past mistakes, there are ways that you can protect your rights on the job application and during the interview process. A defense attorney can help you expunge or seal your record. See how you can minimize the impact of your past criminal record when applying for a new job.
How to Know Which Offenses are on Your Record
Before you assume your record will disqualify you from the job, do your research. You can search your criminal record online here.
Certain types of convictions will likely disqualify you from certain jobs. For instance, a securities fraud conviction may make it nearly impossible to work in the financial field again. Simply being charged with a crime may result in loss of professional licenses for health professionals, teachers, and attorneys.
Depending on the results of your criminal records search, you may choose not to apply for roles where your application can be automatically disqualified. If the job sounds perfect, you should contact a local attorney for expungement/sealing records.
Do I Have to Reveal My Criminal Record on a Job Application?
Florida Statute (F.S.) 943.053, makes adult criminal history records public, with special provisions for access, unless the record has been sealed or expunged. However, in certain circumstances, you are not legally obligated to tell a potential employer about your criminal history.
- When an arrest is not currently pending or didn’t result in a conviction.
- When you’re going through a pre-trial adjudication for an offense that isn’t criminal by statute.
- If you were arrested for a minor drug offense and there’s been a certain time lapse since the conviction.
If none of these situations apply to your case, call a top-rated attorney like Stechschulte Nell in Tampa, FL to discuss how we can have your records sealed or expunged. This process essentially will “hide” your criminal record. Our mission as your attorneys is to have you in the position where you can legally say on a job application or interview that you weren’t charged or convicted of a crime.
Your Rights When Applying for a New Job
We understand a history of arrests and/or convictions can make it very tough to land a new job. Although Florida law provides minimal protection for applicants, federal and state laws place additional restrictions on how employers can employ criminal records in making job decisions.
Applicants with criminal records have some legal protections from two main federal laws:
Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
Criminal background checks may include errors and incomplete information (ex. failing to report the person was exonerated of a crime or that the charges were dropped). It’s also common for records checks to misclassify crimes and list the same offense multiple times. Some records may belong to someone else with a similar name.
The FCRA has rules for employers who request criminal background checks. Employers must:
- Get the applicants written consent ahead of time.
- Tell the applicant if the report will disqualify him or her.
- The employer must also give the applicant a copy of the report.
- Notify the applicant after the employer makes a final decision not to hire him or her based on the information in the background check.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Title VII protects job seekers from discrimination in every aspect of employment. According to The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), companies that have a blanket policy of excluding all applicants with a criminal record could screen out disproportionate numbers of minority applicants. This could be considered illegal race discrimination.
However, employers can screen out applicants whose criminal records pose what they consider an unreasonable risk without engaging in discrimination. Under these EEOC guidelines, employers must consider:
- the nature and gravity of the criminal offense
- how much time has passed since the conduct or sentence, and
- the nature of the job (ex. where it is performed, how much supervision and interaction with others the employee will have, etc).
Additionally, under these guidelines, employers should give applicants with a criminal record an opportunity to explain the circumstances and provide mitigating information.
When Applying with a Criminal Record
You never want to lie on an application, but you do not need to offer more information than necessary either. We recommend that you read the application carefully.
- If the application specifically asks whether you have ever been convicted of a felony, you do not need to disclose misdemeanor offenses.
- If the application asks about convictions related to specific offenses (drugs, DUI, sexual misconduct), but they don’t apply to your charge, then you are not required to disclose these unrelated arrests or convictions.
If you find that the rejections keep coming, then you may want to contact a lawyer to have your record sealed or expunged. This is the best option for anyone seeking employment with a criminal record. If successful, you can legally answer “no” to conviction questions.
Have Your Records Sealed or Expunged
Stechschulte Nell has a proven track record of getting criminal records from previous charges or convictions sealed and expunged. Contact our law firm today to schedule a consultation with our top-rated Tampa criminal defense attorney. We can help you get a fresh start.