Don’t Hire an Ex-Offender Until You Read This

A few weeks ago, Facebook went nuts with a clip from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Unless you have HBO or are a fan of The Daily Show, you might not recognize the name of this Brit. He’s wickedly funny though, and like Jon Stewart, often takes an acerbic and wry look at some of the problems plaguing our nation. One of the topics Oliver recently tackled was America’s penal system, and more specifically, its use and dependence on bail. Take a look:


Aside from Oliver’s take that bail cripples some ex-offenders chances of maintaining a job, ex-offenders also have tons of hurdles when it comes to simply landing a gig in the first place. The ‘Ban the Box’ movement we discussed earlier this week is aiming to help more folks with criminal histories land jobs by erasing questions about previous convictions from job applications, but still, employers may have a host of reservations about hiring someone who previously broke the law.

One of our most popular ActiveCare posts ever discussed this very issue and offered some great insight for employers and prospective employees. Click here if you want to read the original post… or continue below to find some updates to our original content.

Arrests & Convictions: 5 Things to Consider when Hiring Ex-Offenders

You interview someone and like them but they have a record – what do you do next? The EEOC recently established guidelines for inquiries about arrests and convictions. Although it is not yet an enforced law, it is important that employers understand what the EEOC considers to be discrimination. Hiring managers should start to take certain precautions now, in order to prevent unintentional discrimination in the future. Not following the EEOC guidelines can lead to expensive lawsuits and damaged reputations.

Here are five things to consider when an ex-offender comes across your desk.

1. Re-verification of results:

Depending on the type and quality of check used it is not uncommon to get false results or mistake an identity. Mistakes almost always equal a lawsuit, something no company wants. Through re-verification mistakes can be avoided; giving job seekers the fair chance they deserve and companies peace of mind.

Update – A screening company and school district are both getting slammed with a lawsuit by a Minnesota woman who claims an error on her background check cost her a prestigious volunteer position and ruined her reputation. Click here to read the whole story.

2. The nature of the crime:

The EEOC requests that all employers use a personal assessment when making a hiring decision about an ex-convict. Part of that assessment is to consider the nature of the crime. Was it one time? Was it a youthful mistake? Was it a serious crime? Different types of crimes call for different actions on the employer’s part.

Update – Earlier this year, a New York Times article explored the issue of vetting candidates through criminal background checks. As a nationally-accredited screening agency, we dissected portions of the article for accuracy and perspective.

3. The nature of the open position:

After assessing the nature of the crime, hiring managers must then compare it to the nature of the position. If the position deals with children and the crime happened to involve a child, that would constitute a reason to deny the applicant. On the other hand, if the crime was one charge for drugs as a teenager and the job is for a receptionist – the employer then must consider them for the position.

Update – Protecting our children is of utmost importance. That’s why it’s imperative that employers not only screen employees who may work with or near children, but also volunteers. Every volunteer should be given a thorough background check so any ex-offender who is seeking a volunteer opportunity doesn’t slip through the cracks and come in close contact with children.

4. Time elapsed since crime:

The final step in a personal assessment is to consider the time elapsed since the crime or conviction. If using a reporting agency, they are required by law only to report crimes after a certain date but if searching on your own you must consider time. Generally any crime 10 years or older cannot be used against an applicant.

Update – Keep an eye on Uber if you’re interested in any statute of limitation on a criminal background check. The company
limits background checks for all crimes other than sex offenses to seven years and it’s already come under fire. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) allows for convictions to be reported indefinitely and limits seven years for non-convictions to be reported.

5. Rehabilitation and behavior since arrest:

This is something that isn’t required but recommended. A good way to judge a candidate is to look at how they have re-entered society or behaved since their arrest. This can be a good indication of how they will be as an employee. If they have made a good effort to be an upstanding citizen and keep the past in the past then odds are they will make a good employee.

Update – Considering 70 million Americans have an arrest or criminal record that will show up on a background check, employers will run across an ex-offender sooner or later. There are so many informative and encouraging resources for both ex-offenders and employers that there is sure to be the right match for everyone. Here’s a post on some of those resources.

What do you think about hiring ex-offenders? Write us your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in Background Screening, Criminal Records, General, News and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , by Patricia Carlson. Bookmark the permalink.

Patricia Carlson is a content writer who specializes in B2C and B2B inbound marketing. She blogs regularly for clients about the background screening and finance industries, and generates newsletters, white papers and email campaigns for a variety of businesses. Patricia also produces a heavy rotation of editorial material for home design, law enforcement, and family magazines. She’s been writing professionally for more than a dozen years, and for Active Screening for more than two of those. Check out LinkedIn for a roster of Patricia's clients and links to published works. When she’s not interviewing sources or researching trends, she’s living a fast-paced Florida life questioning the antics of her two young children, partner and mischievous cat. Patricia loves to talk tennis and TV on Twitter - give her a shout @pattycfreelance.
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