How Can a Criminal Offense Affect Your Work?
The Zavala Texas Law firm can provide you with answers to two dilemmas. One is if you are one of the many Americans who had a minor brush with the law. The second one is if you are wondering if your violation can influence your chances of employment.
Know that you are not alone in this. It has been reported that a third of Americans under age 23 have been arrested; data from the National Institute of Justice. This means that many Americans have misdemeanor sentences on their criminal records. There may be certain cases wherein the misdemeanor records can cause problems with prospective employers, but fortunately, there are ways to overcome such issues.
Some employers may inquire about felonies or criminal records. While misdemeanor sentences may not be as grave as felony convictions, any criminal record can cause roadblocks in your job search. It is essential to know how to handle this kind of situation, as well as to learn how to deal when employers conduct background checks.
Prospective employers have the legal right to obtain reports, which may contain records on misdemeanor convictions, whether they were obtained voluntarily or not.
Know Your Legal Rights
Having a misdemeanor sentence does not mean that you no longer have the legal rights with your employment. Keep in mind that as an applicant, you are not legally required to divulge arrests. Arrests that did not result in a conviction which were already expunged from your record.
Do note that there are state and federal laws that limit employers in using criminal reports in terms of their hiring decisions.
Texas has some similar laws, they do not allow background checks of any records of criminal conviction and arrest, which has gone beyond 7 years. This is especially true if the job only pays $75,000 or less than that per year. Such criminal records are also not allowed if the job is not safety-sensitive.
As stated by Texas law, the applicant can also disclaim the existence of their criminal records, which have already been dropped due to a court order, whether through pardon or acquittal.
The best way to erase or expunge a misdemeanor record is to contact a Houston criminal defense lawyer who is experienced in this field.
What is the Fair Credit Reporting Act?
One of the 2 federal laws that are designed to offer protection to people who have had criminal records is the Fair Credit Reporting Act or FCRA. The FCRA is designed to ensure that the job applicants are protected in terms of making sure that the criminal background checks for employment are accurate. There are cases wherein the background checks can be erroneous, such as incorrect records of conviction, which have already been deleted. Such false records may also include incomplete details like getting the charges dropped or exoneration.
There are also instances wherein the background check can lead to mistaken identities, multiple records for the same offense or wrong classification of violation.
The FCRA protects the applicants through the following guidelines:
- Employers will have to ask for the written consent of the job applicant so they can conduct a criminal background check
- Employers must also declare to the applicants if they want to screen them because of the background check
- Lastly, employers will also have to let the applicants know if they are not accepted for the job because of the background check
Companies that conduct background checks should also make sure that the data they would gather is accurate and up-to-date. In case the job applicant contests the data collected, then the employer must dig deep and note the errors if there are any.
Civil Rights Act of 1964 Title VII
This federal protective law disallows discrimination in employment specifically in hiring and screening the job applicants. The law forbids employers to single out applicants unreasonably due to ethnicity, protected class, or race.
Data have shown that arrest rates can be significantly higher for African Americans and Latinos. This means employers are prohibited from excluding applicants from the mentioned group even if they have criminal records. Any company or employer, which violates the law, can be convicted of racial discrimination.
The EEOC or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission permits employers to screen out their job applicants who may pose safety risks. But the company must make sure that their screening process does not implicate racial discrimination.
In addition, the EEOC indicates that employers should allow job applicants with misdemeanors to disclose their case proceedings, as well as justify why they are fit for the position.
Do you need to declare your Misdemeanor?
It is advisable to divulge to the hiring manager your misdemeanor record rather than wait for the employer to conduct their background check.
While you have the right not to divulge misdemeanor records, especially the ones that were expunged or did not result in convictions, it is still better to inform the employer beforehand. In fact, the Houston Chronicle stated that being honest with the potential employer could help you land the job.
Being honest signifies that you are serious in assuming responsibility for your actions. Your honest approach will also allow you to show that you have learned and grown from the experience. On the contrary, not revealing your misdemeanor record can actually lessen your chances of being hired.
If you need legal assistance, call the Zavala Texas Law Firm today and take advantage of our experience with handling criminal cases in Houston.