Eliminating Criminal History Questions From Job Applications

In California, current law prohibits both public and private employers from asking an applicant to disclose any information concerning an arrest or detention that did not result in a conviction. Further, as of July 1, 2014, all state and local agencies are prohibited from asking applicants to disclose information regarding criminal convictions, with some exceptions, until it has been determined that the applicant meets the minimum employment qualifications for the position.
Exceptions include: Peace Officers, Court Employees, Prosecuting Attorneys, Public Defenders, Health Officers, Child Support EE’s, Child Care Providers, IHSS Workers, Park, Playground, Rec Center EE’s and Residential Care Facility EE’s.
Recognizing that the barriers to employment for people who have criminal convictions increases unemployment and increases the risk of individuals reoffending, the Legislature has found that reducing the barriers will decrease unemployment and improve economic stability in communities.
There are approximately 10 states and 50 municipalities that have reformed their hiring process, by eliminating criminal history questions from job applications. Madison City Wisconsin will soon join the movement, in an effort to give people with a criminal background a chance at a new start. The goal is to help those who have been unreasonably embroiled in the system or whose history prevents them from attaining gainful employment. Once it is revealed that someone has a criminal conviction, they are pretty much taken out of the running and are not considered for the job they are applying for. This prevents many from being able to start over, build a new life and support their families.
The position of those who are in favor of this resolution is that, if an arrest record is not relevant to the job, then the applicant should not be forced to reveal the information. More specifically, the goal is to eliminate criminal history questions and delay any background check until a job offer is made. The resolution would not prevent prospective employers from obtaining conviction records; it would only delay the disclosure until well into the hiring process. This gives applicants a better chance of being evaluated based on their qualifications for the job.
However, even with this movement toward helping those with criminal convictions, a criminal conviction can still prevent an individual from getting a job that will allow them to support themselves, as well as a family. It is for this reason that anyone who has been arrested should seek the advice and assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Preventing a conviction after an arrest should always be the first goal of any criminal defense attorney but, in situations where a conviction is inevitable, minimizing the seriousness of the conviction such as a reduction from a felony to a misdemeanor, should be the next goal. This will not only help with prospective future employment, it reduces the fines, fees and length of probation. An aggressive, experienced attorney, familiar with the courts in which a charge is pending, can make all the difference.
Petitions for Factual Innocence and expungement of criminal conviction are still effective tools in helping to clean up your criminal record.