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Some states ban criminal history discrimination in employment

Those in the San Antonio area who have any type of criminal history likely know how difficult it can be to obtain employment. Many employers in Texas have checkboxes on their job applications that ask applicants to declare whether or not they have ever been convicted of a crime. Unfortunately, once this box is checked, many employers are going to throw the application in the garbage immediately.

Of course, many people who have made mistakes in the past have been rehabilitated. Many people with criminal records are perfectly qualified to work for Texas employers, but they never have a chance to sit down for an interview because employers judge them based on that insignificant checkbox. Some states have outlawed these criminal record checkboxes, calling it a discriminatory practice, but Texas is not one of them.

New Jersey is the latest state where lawmakers are attempting to banish the checkbox. One of the state senators who proposed the ban has argued that previous mistakes should not create impenetrable barriers to employment.

The state's Opportunity to Compete Act would allow employers to inquire into the criminal histories of job applicants only after a conditional job offer is extended. This forces employers to meet the candidates, evaluate their qualifications and form opinions before being swayed by an unsavory criminal history. It also gives prospective employees a chance to explain any criminal records.

Criminal records would only be available if the crime occurred within a certain timeframe. Very serious crimes such as murder would not be time-barred.

Several states, as well as 40 individual counties and cities across the country, already have such bans in place. Do you think such a ban is necessary in Texas, too?

Source: Newark Patch, "Proposed Law Would Ban Criminal 'Check Box' on Job Applications," Feb. 8, 2013

  • For information about your rights and workplace discrimination laws in Texas, please visit our San Antonio employment law firm's Discrimination page.

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