Should You Be Hiring Someone with A Criminal Record?

Many business owners are concerned about hiring new employees with criminal records. Imagine this: after long weeks of reviewing applications and conducting interviews, you finally found the perfect candidate for your open position. However, just as you get ready to make the call and tell them they are hired, you get the background check response and find out one thing: they have a criminal record. Even though you still believe this candidate is perfect for the job, their criminal record is making you have second thoughts about hiring them. Should you go ahead and hire someone that has all the right skills, but has committed a felony in the past, or move on to the next candidate? Well, the answer is much more complex than a yes or a no.

Consider Gravity Of Committed Offenses

First things first, do not rush into dismissing the candidate for a minor felony that they committed years ago, consider the gravity and nature of the offense before making a decision. Sure, armed robbery or breaking and entering can be serious accusations, and if they happened one year ago, it gives you all the right to fear you might be putting your company at risk. But a DUI from 5 years ago can be easily pardoned and should not be considered a reason not to hire someone. Statistics reveal that more than 40% of Americans have a criminal record. If you were to completely disregard all candidates with a criminal record, this means you are eliminating almost half of the talent pool. This will make it that much more difficult to find a suited candidate. Nobody is advising you to hire someone that has committed repeated felonies or has just been charged with one, but keep in mind that everyone makes mistakes. If it is a one-time-only thing, and they show signs of rehabilitation, then chances are, you do not have to worry about it. Consider the gravity and nature of committed offenses before making your hiring decision.

Assess Job Responsibilities

When making your decision, keep in mind the type of position they are interviewing for. Evaluate the responsibilities they will have on a daily basis, and consider if their previous convictions may have an impact on their ability to work. Sure, you may not want to hire someone with a DUI for a driving position, but for an accountant position, it should not weight that much in the decision-making process. At the same time, you may want to think again when hiring someone that has been charged with fraud in a management or bookkeeping position. If the conviction does not relate to the job, and especially if it happened many years ago, I think it’s safe to assume that it should not influence your decision that much. Consider the responsibilities employees will need to conduct when assessing their criminal history throughout hiring.

Allow Candidates To Defend Themselves

“Before crossing them off the candidate list, at least give them a chance to explain the situation. Give them a call regarding your recent findings and ask about them mentioning that you are looking for full honesty”, advises a DUI attorney San Diego based. Many of his clients feared they might be having trouble getting a job if the employer found out they have a DUI conviction. Candidates may be fearful of willingly disclosing this information to you. Many prospective employees feel that your knowledge of minor convictions may prevent them from obtaining positions. However, if you specifically asked about previous criminal offenses, and they denied having a criminal record, it might be an issue. Perhaps they denied it because they felt ashamed, or because they feared it will affect your decision. Whatever the reason, dishonesty is not appreciated. Provide candidates the opportunity to defend themselves and fully explain the situation, before choosing to hire someone with a criminal record.

Evaluate Time Since Convictions

When we are young, we do things we are not exactly proud of. Being arrested for public intoxication 10 years ago, when they were 21 and happy that they can legally buy beer, may not exactly represent who that person is now. Shoplifting a pair of sunglasses from a shop when they were 17 may, again, not mean much. On the other hand, discovering they were convicted for a major felony last year may be a problem. Hiring an ex-offender can sometimes turn out to be much more of an advantage than you initially realize. Giving people a second chance to prove themselves and get a good job may result in getting yourself a real, loyal person by your side. More than half of ex-offenders are unable to find a job once they get out of jail, so they will certainly be grateful for the opportunity. Prior to making your hiring decision, evaluate if enough time passed since convictions.

Guarantee Legal Compliance

In the end, no matter your decision, ensure you do not get in trouble with the law. The Ban the Box law, that has passed in 35 states, prohibits employers from asking about convictions or arrests for DUI on job applications. However, you can still ask about past convictions or run a background check the moment you are ready to make an offer to the candidate. The purpose of this law is to prevent employers from dismissing candidates based on their criminal record alone. Part form the Ban the Box law, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has also provided guidance for employers in how to treat potential candidates with a criminal record. In their guidance, they advise employers to ensure they are not violating Title VII from the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The best way to ensure that you do not run into trouble is to check with an attorney first. Always make certain that your hiring decision protects you from any legal consequences.

Many business owners are concerned about criminal convictions as they go about hiring employees. As you interview and consider your decision, evaluate the gravity of committed offenses. If an employee was arrested for a DUI fifteen years ago, they are clearly not a threat. Consider the position the candidate will be filling, and therefore the responsibilities they face. Look how much time has passed since crimes were committed. Furthermore, ensure that your decision always maintains legal compliance on your behalf. If you are concerned on whether you should be hiring someone with a criminal record, consider the points mentioned above.

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