Searching for a job after a criminal conviction can be challenging. Criminal defense lawyers explain that there are two distinct sides to the situation, where those looking for a new start come face-to-face with employers looking to do what is right for their organizations. Unfortunately, even less serious convictions can work against an honest person seeking employment. This leaves the important question that many criminal defense attorneys are asked: How much information should be revealed during the job search process?
Two Conflicting Sides of the Employment Issue
The main issue at stake is the conflicting policies that exist to ensure public safety, yet also ensure that each individual is treated fairly, regardless of prior convictions. Our society works hard to rehabilitate even those convicted of serious crimes so they can find gainful employment and become a positive contributor to society. Still, criminal defense lawyers know that most people also want reassurance that they are working with people who will not harm them or their business in any way.
Conflicts occur when trying to determine exactly how much information employers and other people should be allowed to know about job applicants and if such information could cause them to look at a formerly convicted person with prejudice. Certain jobs will naturally exclude some individuals, so a potential employer's right to that information is just as valid as the former convict's right to protect it.
How Much Information Should Be Revealed?
Many states, including the state of Texas, do not require job applicants to reveal information like arrests or convictions for minor crimes. Some convictions may have been expunged from a person’s criminal record so they cannot be revealed during research. Based on such laws, those with minor convictions are not required to reveal them to potential employers. Yet employers may still be able to locate such information via a background check if the record has not been expunged.
In the case of more serious convictions, a person may want to discuss the situation with experienced criminal defense attorneys who can advise on what should and should not be revealed.
Can Employers Use Previous Convictions Against Job Seekers?
Criminal defense lawyers understand there is a fine line between considering a job candidate’s suitability for a position and outright discrimination. In an effort to prevent discrimination yet still protect the public, Texas law allows job seekers to deny conviction on any account that has been expunged; however, this also provides employers with certain protections as well.
Employers may consider job suitability in cases where the offense is related to the job for which that person is being considered. In situations where convictions are not expunged and can be found through background checks, employers may not consider convictions that took place over the prior seven years for positions paying below a certain salary. With more recent convictions or in situations involving higher paying jobs, employers may have the right to consider a conviction before hiring the applicant.
Of course, honesty will always be the best policy. Specific requests for prior conviction information should be honestly answered. Being dishonest on a job application will never look good in the eyes of an employer who learns of such convictions after the person is hired. There could even be fraud charges filed in some cases. Basically, if asked this type of question, you must be honest.
Getting a job after a criminal conviction may be difficult for some individuals, according to criminal defense attorneys. While it is important for applicants to be honest when applying for a job where past convictions could come into question, employers may not discriminate without a valid reason to exclude an applicant from the job. Because every situation is different, job seekers may want to talk about their individual circumstances with experienced criminal defense lawyers who can help people with prior convictions receive fair consideration for qualified jobs!
Garza & Elizondo, LLP
680 East St. Charles St, Suite 600
Brownsville TX 78520
1393 East Alton Gloor Blvd, Suite 12
Brownsville TX 78526