Erase the box, endanger customers

21 Comments | This entry was posted in Loss Prevention

It’s funny how a tiny little box on an employment application can hold so much weight. But for retailers who are held accountable for the safety of their employees and patrons, that tiny little box can be the first line of defense in protecting their stores.

Earlier this week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) held a hearing to consider banning a certain tiny little box on employment application forms – the box that asks if applicants have a criminal history. The hearing came in response to a “Ban the Box” campaign to change EEOC guidance on the use of criminal background checks for prospective employees. How would this change policy? Supporters hope to have employers remove the criminal background box on employment applications. In a letter to the EEOC, NRF and a dozen other industry groups expressed concern over the potential policy, writing that “attempts to ease unemployment frustration or reentry desires should not come at the expense of keeping people and businesses safe from physical or financial harm.”

Background checks are widely used in our industry. In a recent poll of over 100 retailers, 97% reported that they utilize background screening as part of their applicant hiring process and 87% use criminal record checks. If requirements for background checks on employment applications change, an important tool used by most of the business community (retail included) could be severely impacted.

Shopping centers, malls and retail stores nationwide open their doors to the public every day. You don’t have to have a boarding pass, a special number or a first-class ticket to get into a store (unless Justin Bieber happens to be there). Retailers aim to provide safe and enjoyable environments in their stores and, most importantly, seek to protect their employees, their customers and their businesses. Removing a first line of defense, like that tiny little box on an employment application, leaves retailers, shoppers and the entire business community nationwide at a disadvantage.

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21 Comments

  1. avatar beebranch
    Posted July 27, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    If a convicted criminal has served penal time and has shown an exemplary lifestyle since release, employers should not require disclosure of one’s criminal history. Certain crimes should require more scrutiny, eg., child molesters, rapists. By allowing employers to keep the crimianl history box on its applications, is another form of allowing institutionalized covert discrimination.

  2. avatar Nancy N.
    Posted July 27, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    The problem with allowing that checkbox is that most employers use that checkbox as a “yes or no” box about whether they want to hire people, and fail to look past a “yes” to examine what the offense was, when it was, and who the person actually is TODAY, and whether they would actually make a good employee or not. They just see a “yes” and move that application to the “reject” pile without looking further at the details. If employers didn’t use that checkbox in such a categorically discriminatory way – rejecting potential employees because of years-old offenses that have nothing to do with their ability to work in their field – then maybe it could remain. But as long as it continues to be used that way by the vast majority of employers, the only way to protect people with records from discrimination is to remove the box entirely.

    If employers feel they need legitimate access to that information, then they need to use it responsibly and not abuse it to disenfranchise an entire class of people from ever having a productive life again like is happening in our society now.

    And really, if a job legitimately requires that much security concern on the part of an employee, a background check should be performed. But only for jobs that really require it for the safety of the public (like workers who go into people’s homes, for instance) and not for every single job!

  3. avatar Joe LaRocca, Senior Asset Protection Advisor
    Posted July 27, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for the response and I’m glad you agree that criminal offenses deserve additional scrutiny. I think businesses, especially retailers, do an incredible job hiring in the communities they serve and always look for the best candidates. If an applicant identifies they have a prior conviction, age and time of the offense, seriousness and nature of the violation, and rehabilitation is taken into account. Of course the relevance of the conviction and open position are considered.

    If the background question is removed from the application, a convicted and registered child molester could apply for a sales position at a popular children’s store, be interviewed by multiple managers, conditionally hired, start training and even work inside the store before a conviction is discovered. I think most people would agree, having the information up front makes for a better and safer business decision and avoids false hope for the job candidate.

    This information is as relevant as their education, previous employment experience and any formal training. I think the company doing the hiring has the right and responsibility to know who they are putting into their workplace and representing their company.

  4. avatar Nick Phillips
    Posted July 28, 2011 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    I do not see this box as being discriminative as other people have described. I have been in law enforcement over 23 years and have worked with ORC for the past 12 years. I see this as a first test for prospective employees. Most retailers do a background check, after all when we start legislating who a company must hire I see that as a very bad move. I would not want a bank robber working in a bank, a child molester a candy store, a child molester as a teacher. Where would the line be drawn when it comes to what public sector should or should not have the box? I have been on cases where the box was checked “no”. The company catches the employee stealing within the first couple weeks and when we make an arrest it’s later discovered that they have a criminal history of multiple thefts. I see the box as a tool to see if a prospective employee will be forthright and honest. If the check “yes” and are honest and explain I do not see many employers deny jobs to them. All employees go through a screening process, like it or not they are scrutinized again and again during multiple interviews, from the questions they are asked, clothes they wear, how punctual they are to the interview. They have to give references and even the background checks. The government does background checks and security clearances. Why would retailers want any less to protect their assets and employees?

  5. avatar stephen b.
    Posted July 28, 2011 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    @beebranch – you say if a convicted criminal has served penal time and “…has shown an exemplary lifestyle…” Exactly what does that mean and if background checks are not permitted how does one verify the exemplary lifestyle as you put it?

    You say certain crimes should require closer scrutiny…..Who decides that list? You? To a retailer hiring individuals to handle cash you don’t think they have a right and a duty to know an applicant was convicted of theft? If you had a store and have thousands of dollars in cash coming in daily you would not want to know anything about the individual you give register keys to?

    Let’s say that you sell children’s clothing. You don’t have a right to know the person applying to sell for you was convicted as a pedophile? You hire a maintenance person or a sales associate who offers to stay late to help clean up after a busy day. Great! What a great employee! That night he abducts one of your employees or customers and you find out later he had a conviction or two for armed robbery, assault, etc. You own a warehouse and hire a line worker. At lunch he stabs a coworker during an argument. Later you find out he had two convictions for assault with a deadly weapon.

    Whether you think it is your duty to know in three of the examples you will likely be sued for negligent hiring. Convictions are generally public knowledge and in each case you would be viewed as negligent for not taking precautions to protect customers and/or other employees..
    Your use of the term “institutionalized covert discrimination” would indicate you feel as though employers are all bad and evil empires. Just keeping that little box automatically makes ALL employers discriminatory? I am going to guess you do not own a business.

    @Nancy N – you state that most employers use that box as a “yes or no”. Interesting. Can you tell me how you came upon that knowledge? I must be one of the few you didn’t call or visit as I do attempt to look deeper into a conviction to make sure that first it is relevant to my business. Second was it a stupid stunt while a youth or is there a pattern?

    You state that “if employers didn’t use that checkbox in such a categorically discriminatory way….Maybe it could remain” and “as long as it continues to be used that way by the vast majority of employers….” Wow. How could you possibly know that? Where is your empirical evidence?
    Sweeping generalities make for great headlines, but crumble under scrutiny. Please educate us all as to where your facts that support your statements come from.

    I also ask you, who decides what jobs “really require” background checks? You mentioned workers who go into people’s homes as an example. I am going to guess you also do not own a business, but if you do you have never been faced with protecting employees within a business not based in a home or protecting customers who expect a safe place to shop.

    In a perfect world we all could expect everyone to do exactly what they should when they should, but this is not a perfect world and humans are far from perfect. Do people make mistakes? Yes and most learn from those mistakes, but there sure does seem to be a percentage of individuals out there who just don’t think rules apply to them and laws are only suggestions.

    This is not an easy topic with a one size fits all answer. If the legal system did indeed rehabilitate criminals instead of simply warehouse them and often train them in new criminal enterprises then we could expect after their mistake they could rejoin the society they turned their backs on and become valued members of society. But that is not reality. There are actually individuals who for whatever reason are just plain evil.

    Employers have to do due diligence to make sure they are not hiring killers, murderers, rapists, thieves, etc. Taking away the ability to run criminal backgrounds is not a step in the right direction. Abuses of that process should not be tolerated, but don’t condemn the entire system. I truly do not believe the majority of employers use the admission of a conviction as an automatic no, but that is my opinion based on being in the business world for 30+ years.

  6. Posted July 28, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    As a person who has several years experience in placing ex-offenders in jobs; I can speak to the difficulty these men and women have finding a job offering living wages.

    I am honestly on the fence concerning getting rid of the box all together. Only because, I have been on both sides of this issue I understand the dilemma. I have been on the side of the employer and job searcher. How do you protect both in this situation?

    There are many job searchers looking for opportunities and may have a little something in their background. I have seen many people who have done their time and come home to nothing. No opportunity, no break at all. What does this person do? What they do is go back to what they know.

    @Nancy I totally get what you are saying. These people are absolutely discriminated against. If the employer sees that the yes box is checked, they are automatically disqualified from going any further in the hiring process. This candidate may not have had a choice; he sold drugs to support his family and got caught. Should he be banned from making an honest living for the rest of his life? There are many ex-offenders who were incarcerated because of issues from addiction. Should these people not be able to return to society and make a decent living to support their families?

    On the employers side…it is very difficult to sift through the many applications and responses they receive for one job opening. They do use whether a person has been in trouble as one of the disqualifying factors. It’s a total misuse of their power, in my opinion.

  7. avatar John
    Posted July 28, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    How can I protect our customers from a criminal coming into their house if i am unable to ask. Imagine the liability that will come opening your doors to a convict. Ask yourself this question, would you want a convicted criminal coming into your home with only your 18yr. old daughter there? How about when she buys something with a credit card and they ask for an ID giving that individual her address. Think about it folks there is a reason they have a record and the safety of the public depends on us knowing.

    I am always willing to give someone a chance, but that is for me to decide.

  8. avatar Rick Snow
    Posted July 28, 2011 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    beebranch and Nancy N. – You are currently allowed to remove the box from applications for any company YOU own.

  9. Posted July 29, 2011 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Seems that the box only encourages criminals to lie about their past. Saying “no” and hoping the company won’t do a background check might give a criminal a better chance than saying “yes”.

  10. Posted July 29, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    How many folks out there applying for jobs have commited crimes for which did they did get caught but would have had a felony if anyone knew about it? What about the folks who drive drunk to the felony level but haven’t been caught? The only distinguishing characteristic sometimes is who got caught. What about white-collar crimes? Would you pass over hiring Michael Milkin because he checked the box? He is out trying to do a lot of good nowadays…

  11. avatar Eric M. Deadwiley
    Posted July 29, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    Mr. LaRocca,

    Your argument is not supported by any facts or scientific data. I also sent a letter to the EEOC in full support of “Reasonable” change to these “Civil Death” policies that destroy families for generations. Below is part of the letter I sent to the EEOC. I am also the Author of “Civil Death in New York State, How New York State Utilizes Criminal Conviction Records to impede the Economic Growth of Formerly Convicted People.” The “Ban the Box Movement” in no way removes an employers right to request criminal history information. All it does, is delays the inquiry until the interview phase of the hiring process. Since it is a “Discriminatory practice” under EEOC guidelines to have blanket barriers to formerly convicted people, the Ban the Box initiative fits right in there with EEOC policy under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. You have the right to your own opinion but not your own facts

    The “Ban the box” movement was started by a group of formerly convicted people in Oakland, CA – called “All of Us or None.” Many experts studying the negative affects a criminal conviction has on job opportunities have found that people with criminal past have a much better chance of getting hired when they are able to get to the “Interview” phase of the hiring process. The list of states and cities that have passed Ban the Box legislation are steadily growing. Just a few of which are:

    (1) Austin, TX; (2) Chicago, IL; (3) Connecticut; (4) Detroit, MI; (5) Durham, NC; (6) Hawaii; (7) Jacksonville, FL; (8) Massachusetts; (9) Memphis, TN; (10) Minnesota; (11) New Mexico; (12)Philadelphia, PA (13) Providence, RI; (14) San Francisco, CA; (15) San Jose, CA; (16) Seattle, WA and (17) Oakland, CA.

    The State of New Jersey; Omaha, NE and Washington, DC either have legislation pending or have groups currently pushing for Ban the Box legislation.

    The Empirical Studies support the Ban the Box movement

    In a study conducted by Professor Devah Pager et al (Princeton University) titled: “Sequencing Disadvantage: Barriers to Employment Facing Young Black and White Men with Criminal Records.” This study found that job applicants with convictions stood a much better chance of being hired when the applicant has an opportunity to build a “Rapport” with the employer in the interview phase of the hiring process. Article 23-A of the Corrections Law (as it stands now) does not require employer’s to allow an applicant with a criminal record to get to the interview table. The law only allows the applicant to challenge an employer if the employer denies the applicant – and admits that the denial is based on the applicant’s prior criminal record. Thus, employers have learned to “Ignore” or “Discard” applications where the “Box” is checked yes, or simply deny the applicant for reasons not related to their criminal conviction, thus, making Article 23-A’s provisions moot! There is simply no way to prove that an employer is discriminating on an applicant under Article 23-A of the Corrections Law unless the employer out-right admits to it! Most employers would much rather use a “Fabricated” reason for a denial – than risk a discrimination lawsuit. Not to mention the fact that there are no laws against “Ignoring” an application. Many employers request online or mail-in submissions of job application’s or resume’s which is the same as posting your application or resume into a “Black hole.”

    The National Employment Law Project (NELP) recently released a report titled: “65 Million ‘Need Not Apply’: The Case For Reforming Criminal Background Checks for Employment.” This report makes a powerful and compelling argument that the population of people with criminal convictions is so enormous that we as a country would be committing fiscal suicide to continue to support laws and policies which keep 1/4th of the population of our country unemployed or underemployed. In fact, many states are looking to ways to reduce their over-inflated corrections budgets by implementing common-sense policies which encourage employment of people with criminal past and alternatives to incarceration for non-violent offenders.

    NELP recently released another report titled: “Ban the Box: Major U.S. Cities and Counties Adopt Fair Hiring Policies to Remove Unfair Barriers to Employment of People with Criminal Records.” The report documents the progress of the Ban the Box movement in States, Cities and Counties all across the country. According to the data in this report, New York State (if it were to pass a Ban the Box law) would become one in only a few states to pass the initiative “Statewide,” and along with Article 23-A of the Corrections Law, will make New York State the absolute “Leader” in anti-discrimination legislation in the country.

    The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) also recently released a report titled: “Misplaced Priorities: Over Incarcerate, Under Educate.” this report offers a clear look into the budgetary expenditures states and municipalities allocate to incarcerating citizens as opposed to educating them.

    The Community Service Society recently released a report titled: “Only one in Four young Black Men in New York City has a Job.” The CSSNY has taken a “Leadership” role as it pertains to “Cutting-edge” advocacy for the poor and disenfranchised in New York and around the country. The CSSNY remains as one of the “Top” advocacy organizations in New York.
    A scientific study recently conducted by Professor Alfred Blumstein (Head of the Justice Department of Heinz College/Carnegie Mellon University) and Co-Authored by Kiminori

    Nakamura titled: “Redemption in an Era of Widespread Criminal Background Check’s studied “Hazard rates” of formerly incarcerated individuals based on the amount of time that elapses after incarceration or conviction. Professor Blumstein et al found that the risk of recidivism decreases in 5 to 7 years, to almost equal the hazard rate of non-offenders. They recommend the removal of the “Brand” of “Offender” after 5 to 7 years, as one of the best ways to promote desistance.

    There are approximately 81 million people with some sort of criminal conviction on their records, thats 1 in 4 United States citizens! That number grows by 1 Million every two years.

    Eric M. Deadwiley
    thedeadwileytruth@yahoo.com

  12. Posted July 29, 2011 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    As a former woman police officer who left with a discrimination settlement, and a defense investigator, I can understand how hard it would be to get a position THAT FELONS DO NOT BELONG IN. There is hundreds of employers I work with who are diligent in making decisions regarding criminal records. They are looking at CONSISTENT PATTERNS AND LENGTH OF TIME THE OFFENDER HAS SINCE THE OFFENSE OR BEING OUT OF INCARCERATION. The offenders made the choice to commit the crime and the consequences that come with it. Each case must be dealt with considering the above. I see most of my employer clients doing that. In fact, they think hard over it because many of us (including me) have relatives who have criminal records. The only thing they usually look at with the arrest and conviction information, is DID THE APPLICANT DISCLOSE THE INFORMATION?” EMPLOYERS ELIMINATE THOSE APPLICANTS THAT ARE NOT HONEST ABOUT THIS. WE CAN ONLY KNOW THAT THROUGH KEEPING THE BOX. IT IS ONE OF THE BEST METHODS TO CHECK ON THE HONESTY OF THE APPLICANT.

  13. avatar Eric M. Deadwiley
    Posted July 30, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Ms. Brewer,

    Punishment for a crime is “Reserved” to “Jurors,” “Judges” and “Prosectors.” If a “Juror,” “Prosector” and “Judge” decides that a person should do 5 years for a crime, and that person does their time i.e, “Pay their debt to society,” there should be no more punishment after that. If “Society” (which includes employers) want to exact their personal punishments such as denying a person an opportunity to Legal employment, then lets just go back to the old west and dispense justice without “Laws.” No Judge has ever sentenced a defendant to prison time and included a disclosure that they will be subject to “Housing” and “Job discrimination.” Formerly incarcerated people (whom you refer to as “Felons”) are people non the less. They have the same needs and desires as you. They have “Children” who have done no wrong. When you re-punish a person for an old crime (and denying a person a job is the worst form of punishment) you also deny their children the rights to “Life,” “Liberty” and the pursuit of “Justice.” Please don’t give me that “Monkey poop” about employers think it over before making a decision. Race “Trumps all” when it comes to decisions in hiring by a majority white employer base. The “Princeton study” by Professor Devah Pager proved that. Blacks and other ethnic groups need protections from the historical plagues of “Racism” and “Discrimination” that is practiced in this country. In Professor Pager’s study, it was found that employers in New York City’s job market would more likely hire a “White” person with a felony than hire a “Black” person with a college degree. This practice is called “Civil Death.”

  14. avatar Aaron Ping
    Posted July 30, 2011 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    As someone who has worked in Loss Prevention for numerous years I see the point in the box. That said there are way to improve it. First, should it be all crimes that are listed or just Felonies? Secondly, there are employers that do look at the information provided and make their decision then, but there are entirely to many employers who use that a reason just to never call what might be the perfect applicant for the job.

  15. avatar Brian Frasier
    Posted July 31, 2011 at 2:34 am | Permalink

    Not sure if this is as big of an issue as some may make it. Many retail employees (cashier, receiving, stocking, non-management and even some management) do not go through a formal background process. The stat of 97% is misleading…Break it down to job type and most retail positions do not go through a background. If a background is conducted, FCRA only goes back 7-10 years. The amount of people who lie on their background on the actual application because of a criminal record, pales in comparison to the people who have no criminal history that conduct criminal acts of theft, embezzlement, larceny etc in the workplace. So the example where a convicted child molester being employed at a children’s store can happen and I’m sure does happen already. Removing the box may be too far at this point but to me it is a step in the right direction. There are however negligent hiring issues where an employer can be sued if steps were not taken to protect employees/customers etc where the company knew or should have known a risk existed with an employee. The reality is that jails are overcrowded, funding is drying up with much less police resources and less jail time for many non-violent felonies. So, people convicted of a crime must be able to contribute positively by being gainfully employed. If they can’t find employment in large part because of a conviction, a likely consequence is committing more crimes which means more victims. It is a complex issue but I think it warrants some actual studies and facts before being for or against it.

    I’ve always thought that businesses relied too heavily on a background check and no other pre-employment tools/tests that are better indicators of how well an employee will be successful.
    Since retail suffers so much internal theft and myriad other transgressions of an HR/civil nature as it is by people who have passed a background, tells me something is amiss in our ability to ferret out a potential bad hire…

  16. avatar Mark
    Posted July 31, 2011 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    All who are in favor of banning the box, consider this:

    You have worked for many years and tied up your life savings in a small retail business. You need employees you can trust with your money, customers, and life savings. Who would you hire?

    It is very easy to sit back and pontificate about the philosophy of it all — but if it is your money at stake you migh feel differently. If you feel strongly about it, I suggest you go start a company and hire all the convicted felons and sex offenders you want.

  17. avatar George Ortiz
    Posted August 1, 2011 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    I support eliminating the criminal history question on the application. However, I do support employers requiring an applicant pass a criminal background check PRIOR to making the job offer. I worked for a company that would hire someone contingent on them passing the BGC and 3 to 4 weeks later the background check would come in with a negative result. Managers would then have to go back to the employee and release them for falsifying their application. The majority of the time, the infractions were misdemeanors, but because they failed to mention it on the application, they had to go. I support having an exclusion period for crimes against people (ex 3 to 7 years from the date of conviction) I would hope someone would give me a second chance if I was in a similar situation. Many who may have made dumb decisions in their past should not be punished for a lifetime if they have reformed themselves. Not doing so continues to contribute to the cycle of crime amongst some in our population because they cannot find meaningful employment due to the little box on the application.

  18. avatar Thrash
    Posted August 2, 2011 at 12:58 am | Permalink

    It seems to be a typical argument that says we all acknowledge the bigger picture and agree that people with convictions need to be employed but not here…kind of like nuclear waste..it needs to be put somewhere just not in my backyard..Avoidance of the problem doesn’t make it go away with populist rhetoric.

  19. avatar concerned citizen.
    Posted August 7, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    Just to clear things up a little. I wish everyone posting would stop fear mongering. First, understand the issue, then pick a side. Keeping the “box” won’t reduce criminals from entering into the “Child Store” and doing vicious things as some described earlier. They can just as easily walk into the Children’s toy store, as a pseudo customer, with out any barriers, so, use some common sense. Banning the Box won’t keep the employers from running a background check once they have decided on a potential candidate. So, if there is some rapist, child molester terrorist trying to infiltrate the the dearly held close to our hearts retail stores, I am sure the Background check will show. If it doesn’t then we might need something a bit stronger in our justice system then a lousy box. by the way, any person who thinks that it is just the Sex Offenders and Child Molesters who are trying to get hired, that person is not only wrong but highly ignorant. Anyone who speeds is a criminal, minor petty theft is a crime. In some states blowing the BAC or Blood Alcohol Content is a crime, sometimes not paying your taxes could land you in Jail. Breaking parking laws is a crime, running a stop light is a crime. Now, Imagine not getting hired because you checked a box that asked if you have ever been convicted of a crime, and the crime that was committed was nothing more than a speeding ticket. Would you answer yes? and risk never getting a call back, or would you rather not have the box exist, and have your prospective employer let you explain why the conviction exists. Ex-Offenders are humans too, just because you may not have knowingly seen one in real life, doesn’t mean they don’t have families, children friends to owe their allegiance.

  20. avatar David Cheely
    Posted August 15, 2011 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    MOST job applications ask “have you EVER been convicted of a felony” (and many I have come across add “misdemeanor”). What relevance does a conviction that is, say 10 years old, have with respect to whether or not that employee will perform the duties of the job well? 10 years is a LONG time – what were you up to 10 years ago? How much have YOU changed in that time?

    This entire debate is absurd. The only reason why that question is legal is because there is currently no federal discrimination protection under the Civil Rights Act. Due to our overly litiginous society, particularly the practice of civil suits raised against employers who had an employee commit a crime against a person (be it an employee or a customer) and that employee turns out to have had a criminal record, employers reason that they need to know such information to avoid any potential lawsuit (no matter how minute the possibility), and consequently take this “need to know” to the extreme, using the question to screen out applicants, before they have a chance to explain their history (which, if it has been 10 years or more, they shouldn’t have to do in the first place).

    As someone who has had to deal with this crap over the past 17 years, I KNOW what I am talking about. A criminal conviction for theft related crimes at 17 years old STILL impacts me to this day as oftentimes I cannot get an interview for jobs that are well BELOW my level of qualifications, because my application is trashed. I know this because when I have lied and checked “NO” in the box, I actually get interviews! This has become more pronounced as the years have passed and the use of this discriminatory question has become more commonplace on applications. It IS DISCRIMINATORY and functions as a perpetual invisible “scarlet letter” that only becomes visible whence I attempt to get a job, an apartment, or a bank loan.

    A law needs to be passed which defines a statute of limitations on such things. Most of those that comment negatively on ban-the-box legislation think this only applies to recently released ex-convicts, but this applies to persons like myself as well. I applaud Mass. for actually doing this with private employer applications as well, but really, it does little good. The federal government needs to step in and enact a law which bans the use of criminal backgrounds after a set amount of time (an amount of time established on the basis of recidivism studies, such that it actually accords with ACTUAL evidence of rehabilitation) by businesses, while simultaneously, enacting a law that uses the same data to establish a time period (since commission of the crime) in which businesses are protected from civil suits citing the offenders previous criminal record.

    This simple truth is that freedom of information has progressed too quickly with the technological expansion of the internet and only now is the law starting to catch up. In the meantime, persons like myself will continue to be the victims of LEGAL discrimination LONG after we have changed our lives and bettered ourselves. I’ve been a law-abiding citizen for the past 17 years – what the hell does what I did when I was 17 years old have to do with my CURRENT trustworthiness in employment? NOTHING.

    In case you are wondering. I have, since my conviction 17 years ago, graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree and I am now currently working on my doctoral degree in philosophy and the University of South Florida. Despite this, I am unable to work as an adjunct instructor (as all my fellow graduate students do) at the local community colleges due to my criminal record.

    AFTER 17 YEARS!!!! What is wrong with you people???

  21. avatar Frank Carver
    Posted March 19, 2012 at 4:07 am | Permalink

    I have read and appreciated many of your comments, but none seems to be progressing any further with this issue. I personally want to see fairness between individuals with “limited” felony convictions and employment. I stress “limited” because repeat offenders are the bad apples who ruin the bunch, and the same goes to specific “moral” offenders, such as homicides of malice intent and sex crimes involving force and coercion. Furthermore, we all know the judicial system is far from perfect and the complexity and specification of laws are still lacking, so partial reasoning why individuals with criminal backgrounds are rejected from employment goes to the government. Many felonies imposed on individuals are significantly broad and can incorporate a range of assumptions in the hiring process. To provide an example, an Aggravated Assault charge can occur from many situations, although the title given does not specify “cause”, “malice intent”, or “seriousness”. Another example, and one often overlooked, is the common sex crime: urinating in public – though not always named accordingly. Many people will view ONLY the title of the felony and care not to indulge on its reasoning.

    So, with all the issues to debate about, we are still left with the primary concern, which is fairness to individuals who have limited felonies and employment. Well, the only way to approach that issue is with some questions – very relevant questions: “How many felonies in a year are actually on-the-job related?”, “What is the percentage of on-the-job related felonies to non job-related felonies?”, “Which felonies occur on-the-job more frequently and which occur less frequently?”. These questions are some of the statistical information needed to prove how- and if an individual with a felony should be scrutinized regarding employment.

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