Conviction records

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Updated: 4/13/2007 3:36 pm
During the hiring process, employers have the right to ask about and check an applicant's criminal conviction records. Many do so to protect themselves from being held liable for negligently hiring workers who commit crimes while on the job. Others check for prior convictions simply to screen out undesirable applicants. Whatever the reason, the kinds of convictions employers can legally inquire about and whether or not those convictions can be grounds for employment denial are mandated by federal law. Generally, employers can only inquire about and base hiring decisions on an applicant's criminal convictions and can't ask about arrests that never resulted in convictions. Furthermore, applicants with conviction records can't be denied an employment opportunity on the basis of their past criminal activity unless the nature of the misdemeanor or felony committed either conflicts with the employer's business objectives or isn't relevant to the job position. For example, an employer may have grounds for not hiring an individual who's been convicted of credit card fraud for an accountant position, but may be charged with discrimination if the same individual is denied a data processing job. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recommends that when evaluating felony convictions, employers consider the circumstances of the offense, what rehabilitation the applicant has gone through, and his or her employment record since the conviction.

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