Will Hiring Discrimination Against Ex-Cons Be Outlawed?
For many job-seekers, getting to the part of an application that asks whether they have had any prior criminal convictions is extremely stressful. In many situations, an applicant may be aware that, by truthfully checking the “yes” box, they are significantly limiting their chances of getting hired for that position. This is because many employers refuse to hire individuals with past convictions and there are no federal or Florida laws prohibiting discrimination based on this specific factor.
According to the United States Department of Justice, an estimated 700,000 individuals are released from federal prison on an annual basis. The chances of recidivism are generally high, as about 50 percent of released offenders wind up back behind bars within only three years. Studies have regularly demonstrated that steady employment will reduce the chances of an ex-convict returning to a life of crime. Unfortunately, ex-cons are also half as likely to be hired than job-seekers without past convictions on their criminal record.
Though there is no federal law prohibiting an employer from discriminating based on criminal pasts, such behaviors tend to have racial connotations. For example, racial minorities are arrested and jailed at a higher rate than white people for many different reasons. Therefore, having a hiring policy against ex-cons will have a greater effect against minorities than white individuals.
President Obama May Sign Executive Order
The trend toward protecting ex-cons from hiring discrimination has led 19 states into enacting some type of policy or law that helps to make it easier for prior convicted offenders to secure employment after their release so that they may support themselves and their families. Hawaii was the first state to do so in 1998. Many other states have either banned the line of questioning about past criminal acts altogether or they have shortened the period time in which criminal records are available for employers to review for prior convictions.
In recent months and years, activist groups have been strongly urging President Obama to sign an executive order prohibiting companies from including the criminal conviction “box” to check on job applications at the federal level. A petition has garnered significant support, though it is difficult to tell if President Obama will choose to sign yet another executive order.
Contact An Experienced Florida Employment Discrimination Lawyer Today
The existence of a criminal conviction on your record can have a significant impact on your ability to obtain employment. Should federal or state legislation that prohibits discrimination on the basis of criminal convictions be enacted, individuals who are denied employment may be able to pursue legal remedies. In the meantime, job seekers should be on the lookout for other forms of discrimination in the hiring process that are prohibited by state or federal law. Attorney Robert S. Norell is a skilled Florida discrimination lawyer who is committed to representing the rights of workers who are subjected to discrimination. To schedule a consultation with Mr. Norell, call our office today at 305-405-9243.