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Can an Employer Hold My Criminal Record Against Me?

Anyone who has ever filled out a job application knows you are asked if you have been charged with a felony. Many people check the “no” box and move on without a second thought, but what if you are someone with a criminal record? Can criminal charges really be held against you? What if your criminal issues arose once you were employed with a company? It is possible for a potential or current employer to make decisions based on your criminal record, so what do you need to know?

You Can Be Fired Immediately from Your Current Position

It is up to an employer whether or not you will be dismissed if you are convicted of a crime while you are a current employee. In most cases the crime must be a felony, but this it not always the case. In some instances, employers are only concerned with crimes directly related to your job.

Keep in mind you might be terminated as an indirect reaction to your criminal issues, as well. For instance, if you are forced to miss a lot of time from work to fight charges against you, an employer could let you go.

In some cases, the type of crime you commit will prevent you from seeking employment in a particular field. For instance, convicted sex offenders give up their right to employment in the education system. Some professional unions also prohibit felons from being hired. The goal of the industry and a particular company is to protect itself against risk and to protect those for whom they are responsible. When felons are hired, it exposes clients and customers to risk, it could increase insurance rates, and it could result in a black mark against a company or profession.

Indirect Consequences that Lead to Employment Issues
There could also be indirect consequences that affect your ability to be eligible for employment in a certain field. For instance, a company might be willing to hire you, but in order to be an employee you need a particular business license. If your felony conviction prevents you from gaining that license, you will be un-hirable. If you are currently working in a particular field when you are convicted of a felony, it is within the licensing bureaus rights to revoke that license. Most of the time this scenario applies to fields where a person is trusted with the welfare of other people, such as a social worker, healthcare provider, or teacher.

If a Conviction was in the Distant Past, Can I Omit It from My Application?
Omitting a felony conviction on an employment application is not recommended. Many companies run background checks, so it will be easy for them to discover your criminal history. In instances in which you might have had a chance to be hired with the conviction on your record, you will surely be rejected for lying to the employer.

Despite the strict laws that allow companies to protect themselves by not hiring convicted felons, there are instances in which being rejected for work would be a case of discrimination. In New York and New York City, it is illegal to discriminate against someone because of an arrest record. If you think you have been treated unfairly, contact Borrelli & Associates, P.L.L.C. to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.


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