Criminal Checks: What are Your Rights?
Jobs are pretty hard to come by these days. The economy is trying to turn itself around, companies are becoming pickier, more people are getting higher degrees, and it can seem like it’s all about whom you know. That stress is a lot to handle, but now there is the added pressure of more companies demanding prospective employees to pass criminal checks. What is a criminal check and what does it look like? Criminal checks will take a look into your past and let your future employer know of any criminal activity that you may have been accused of. It is important that you understand the rights of your employer and your own individual rights so that the process runs as smoothly as possible.
What is Legal? What is Not?
Even if you know that you have never done a single bad thing in your life, you will probably still have to take one. Usually jobs that are with the government or involve children or the elderly will require a criminal check for all positions. The thought of someone looking into your past can be scary. A typical criminal check can include information about you ranging from your driving record to sex offender lists. Companies want to be sure that they are hiring trustworthy people. You can probably expect that they will look you up on social media as well. Think about it this way: if you were running a financial company, would you want to hire someone who had been convicted of fraud? Criminal checks just gauge the things that you could be hiding.
Is there anything that cannot be included on your report? Of course, the specifics might vary based on the type of job and the state in which you live. However, there are things that your report cannot include. A criminal check cannot show a bankruptcy that occurred more than 10 years ago, any civil suit or tax liens after seven years, or any other negative information that occurred during years prior excluding criminal convictions. You will always have to divulge information if you have been convicted of a criminal conviction no matter what.
What has Changed?
To make things a little more confusing to job seekers, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) just changed some of the guidelines that employers should follow. They recently revised their stance on criminal checks so that it was a little more clear about what was acceptable and what was not. Essentially they want to make sure that an employer knows that they cannot simply deny someone a position that has a criminal background. The conviction has to cause a threat to the company in line with what the job details. There are also a few other things that an employer must now think about when performing a criminal check.
- The difference between a conviction and an arrest: Even if a record shows that a person was arrested, the employer needs to understand that it does not necessarily mean that they were convicted of the crime. Innocent until proven guilty.
- You cannot disqualify someone just because they have a record: In the past companies were able to eliminate any candidate that had a record not matter what it was. However, the conviction now has to be in line with the job. You cannot pass over someone who has been convicted of a traffic violation if they are not going to be driving a company car or driving for their job duties.
How Will it Affect you in the Future
So now that you know about all of the new changes, how does it affect you? Well if you do not have a criminal record, then you will still have nothing to really worry about. Obviously, you will see no change in how you are screened for a job. If you do have a criminal record then things could change significantly for you in the future. First and foremost, The EEOC will help combat racial profiling. Since African Americans and Latinos have a higher arrest rate they also have a higher percentage with a criminal record. Currently more than 65 million Americans have some sort of criminal record.
Though the rules in laws have not changed in any significant way, this new change was a way for the EEOC to announce that they will be holding abusers of this law accountable. This will also give job seekers a better platform to stand on. They will know that if their crime does not affect the job task then they may have reason to suspect that they are being taken advantage of. If for some reason you feel that you have been wrongly denied a job then you can contact the EEOC and they will let you know what your next steps will be.