Articles Tagged with “criminal history”

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stock-photo-20868697-commercial-real-estate.jpgWhat does an employer’s use of criminal history information in hiring decisions have to do with employment discrimination? The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has determined that an employer’s use of an individual’s criminal history in making employment decisions could violate the prohibition against employment discrimination.

The situation has attracted attention from lawsuits involving an automobile manufacturer and a discount retailer who are alleged to have inappropriately used criminal background checks to deny employment to workers, resulting in discriminatory treatment. The lawsuits were brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII is enforced by the EEOC and prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.

The EEOC issued updated employment guidance to address findings that the application of criminal background checks for employment decisions results in a disparate impact based on race and national origin. African Americans and Hispanics are incarcerated at rates disproportionate to their numbers in the general population, indicating an increased potential for disparate impact, but employers can show in an EEOC investigation that their particular employment policy or practice does not cause a disparate impact on the protected group.

Courts look to the following types of evidence to determine whether an employer was motivated by race, national origin, or other protected characteristics when using criminal records in a selection decision:

  • statements that are derogatory concerning the charging party’s protected group;
  • evidence that the employer requested criminal history information more often for individuals certain racial or ethnic backgrounds or did not give equal opportunity to explain criminal history to all groups;
  • treating a charging party differently from others not in the same protected group;
  • results of matched-pair testing that show different treatment because of a protected status; and
  • results of statistical analysis of applicant data, workforce data, or third party criminal background history data.

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New Jersey law provides a “fresh start” or “clean slate” to people who made a mistake in the past, but turned their lives around and become a productive citizen by effectively clearing their records of arrests and convictions. These are called in New Jersey “expungements.”

Why Get an Expungment?
Expungements remove the obstacles which a criminal record can place on getting many jobs. An expungement allows someone to legally say an arrest or conviction never happened.

It is routine today for employers to do criminal background checks on job applicants – or even current employees. An expungement removes this as an obstacle to employment. (There are exceptions – for instance, the convictions must still be disclosed in applications for jobs with the judiciary or law enforcement, or to become a licensed attorney; the conviction may not be a bar, but it must be disclosed in these circumstances.) Arrests and convictions can keep an applicant from getting a job, or cause a current employee to be fired. Many professional licensing boards, such as for nursing, will reject applicants with certain criminal records. An arrest or conviction could cause an application to college or graduate school to be rejected. Many sports or community organizations reject volunteers with arrests or convictions. A criminal record may keep a person from adopting a child. A criminal record can also hurt the chances of joining the military. Finally, it removes the stigma of a criminal record from a good, productive citizen.

What New Jersey Convictions Can be Expunged, and When?
Most New Jersey crimes can be expunged.
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