There is a big ballyhoo going on in California about the fact that most employment applications include a box to be checked if the applicant has ever been convicted of a felony.

The bleeding hearts say that this unfairly holds back felons who have paid their debt to society from gaining meaningful employment. They cry that these people’s rights are being trampled upon by hysterical, unforgiving, business owners and managers who have no sympathy for people who have made past mistakes.

The television news has told the stories of several ex-cons who have done their time and been rehabilitated, and claim that they can’t get good jobs, because every time an employer sees that little check mark in the box about being a felon, they are automatically passed over.

One case highlighted was that of a man who served six years for two home robberies, along with drug possession. He has been out of prison for fourteen years, has  earned multiple firefighting and paramedic certifications, has not been in trouble with the law since his release, and yet, somebody else always gets the jobs he applies for.

There has been a push in California to bar potential employers from asking if an applicant has a felony conviction, and several cities and two counties now prohibit employers from asking about prior felony convictions.

California isn’t the only state where this has come up; currently New Mexico and Connecticut do not ask applicants for public sector jobs about any felony convictions in their past, and Massachusetts bans the question on any application form, be it for private or public jobs.

I’m sure that having to reveal a past felony conviction does has an adverse impact on some job seekers, and there is no question in my mind that there are people who have learned from their past experiences, but still suffer from them.

However, there is a flip side to that coin. Nationwide, there is a very high rate of recidivism for those who have served prison time. So not everybody does learn from their mistakes. In fact, a lot of criminals who do time never are rehabilitated, and they continue to break the law over and over again, until they go back behind bars again and again, in an endless cycle.

As an employer, don’t I have the right to protect my property, my employees, my customers, and my company from somebody with a criminal history? If I am going to hand somebody the keys to my shop, or my delivery truck, or maybe even my customer’s home, don’t I have a right to know if they have a criminal past? What about my rights? What about my customers rights?

An argument can be made that if an ex-con can find a good paying job, the chances of him (or her) re-offending is much lower. In fact, one study cited claims that the rate of recidivism by employed ex-convicts is reduced by as much as 50 percent.

Okay, but, what about that other 50% who do find employment, and still continue to commit crimes. Would you bet your business or your reputation on those kind of odds? Hell, I can do better than that in any casino in Las Vegas!

And another thing comes to mind, in the case of the fellow mentioned above, who served six years and is back out on the street. What about the victims of his two home robberies? Isn’t it possible that they are still suffering from the trauma caused by that criminal’s actions?

Has the passing of years erased the fear that they felt, or the sense of violation they had? What long term effects has that experience had on them, and maybe even their employment prospects? I wonder how many of them would be willing to hire somebody with a felony conviction, if they owned a business and had a job opening?

Should we, as a society, just forgive and forget, and hope for the best when an ex-con walks into our business looking for a job? Or should we have the right to know who is standing across the counter from us, asking to join our team? What do you think?

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21 Comments on Doesn’t An Employer Have Rights Too?

  1. If the emplyer is smart he gets in good with a couple of cops and has them run a back ground check on the potential employee. or have them submit a list of oast jobs and the years that will give a clue as to where they have been

  2. Turbo says:

    Nick;
    I can only immagine what a lawyer here in CT would do to me as an employer if I knowingly sent an ex criminal to a clients home and didn’t tell my client.It is my belief that I would be found more financially tapped much more than that ex-con if he (she) broke the law while representing my company.

  3. Jan and Brad says:

    That is so wrong. We were at dinner with 3 older couples. Of the men, none had a grade 12 education. One owns his own golf course, one is retired Airforce and Locksmith now top salesman, the other is also top sales.
    Yet none would be hired for their jobs without grade 12.

    And yet being a criminal is not to be disclosed. I think not.

  4. Butch says:

    Nick, as an employer you not only have the right, you have the obligation to protect your employees, customers and clients from harm. I believe that there have already been lawsuits/court cases based upon this.

    A couple of quick scenarios:

    1, I own a house cleaning business, I unknowingly hire a convicted burglar and assign him to clean your house while you are at work. What happens when something (allegedly) turns up missing.

    2, I still own the house cleaning service and I unknowingly hire a convicted rapist. I assign him to clean a house and the lady (or daughter) comes home early for whatever reason.

    Here locally (north central IN), a few years ago a convicted sex offender was working at a restaurant late shift with a teen age girl. They left work (separately) and he got a long ways ahead of her on the highway. He pulled over to the edge of the road and raised his hood up (as in having car trouble) and she came along and stopped to help here friend and co-worker. She was raped, brutalized and murdered.

    Yes, he was caught and convicted (again) but that is of little comfort to her, her family and friends.

    Enough said as far as I’m concerned.

    Just a couple out of way too many possibilities.

    Butch

  5. Jan Mains says:

    Every employee I ever hired had a background check run on him or her. The application and job posting stated they would be subject to complete background check. If a felon wants to rent a nice apartment they also go through a background check as part of the multi housing crime free program. This program began in Arizona but is across the US. If they want to live in a nice community, they would have to wait ten years after being a felon before they can rent an apartment. A lot of background checks have a time limit on how far they go back.

    How many of these convicted felons had their hands slapped on committed crimes before they had their felony conviction?

  6. Denise Gray says:

    I owned a maid service. There is a legal term called “Malicious Hiring”. If I hired someone who was covicted of housebreaking, I would be held responsible for anything that disappeared in the home, legally, and could have been in a great deal of trouble. I actually almost did this, but found out about the persons housebreaking felony conviction on the background check. How could I, in good conscious, send a person convicted of housebreaking and theft into someones home? Also, what about the bonding? You can’t bond an employee if they have a felony record. While I sympathize with a person trying to find a job, and I always needed good employees, I would never have been able to hire someone convicted of a felony and send them into someones home. I would have gone out of business before putting my clients in jepardy. That is why I had a thriving business!

  7. Kimberly Vance says:

    Have you no compassion at all? No ability to forgive? How can we expect those with unfortunate pasts to make better choices if we refuse them the opportunities to make positive choices? If a person is convicted of a crime and they serve their sentence, that should be it, end of story! But no, people like you want them branded for life!

    My fiancee was convicted of a nonviolent crime and served 26 months. He has been out for over a year now, and in that time the best job he could find has been working for a car dealership cleaning cars for delivery. It is so demeaning for a man with so much potential!

    It brings to mind the age old question of what would Jesus so? HE would forgive and love! It is too bad you can’t do the same.

  8. Dave B. says:

    “Don’t do the crime, if you can’t do the time”. Part of the “time” is the life long label of FELON. That label means you committed a serious crime, not just a misdemeanor. Sorry, but if you chose to commit a serious crime, now you have to pay. Sorry, but as a felon, you are who you are and it won’t go away. Do like other successful people and start your own career and quit whining. No sympathy here.

  9. Fred Wishnie says:

    I don’t know. I have to admit that I probably wouldn’t hire an ex con if I had other options. But on the other hand, we are then dooming anyone convicted of a felony to unemployment and most likely continuing a life of crime forever.

    That doesn’t bode well for the long term health of our society, especially considering that we have more people incarcerated than any other country already.

    Hmmm!! Where are all the Christians in this god loving nation?

  10. Alice Holdredge says:

    What is demeaning about a job, Kimberly? I know many people here in my area that would be thrilled to clean cars instead of being on unemployment. And they are not felons!

  11. Paul Talbolt says:

    Life dont come with do-overs. If you commit a crime your a criminal. I dont care how much time they do they are still criminals

  12. Paul Stough says:

    I believe the easiest answer to this problem is to institute the death penalty for any felony conviction, and as the huge over supply of labor continues, we could then change the law so that any violation of any law resulted in the death penalty.

    That would eliminate the problem for the employer, and result in lower unemployment.

    Paul

  13. Linda Sand says:

    My friend was convicted of a felonious white-collar crime. On his next job application he left blank the box he was supposed to check as to whether or not he had ever been convicted of a felony. Unfortunately, his interviewer saw that as an oversight so, without asking, checked the box that said No. When his crime later came to light he was fired for falsifying his application! Sometimes you can’t win for losing.

  14. Marie says:

    I am a convicted felon. A Class D felony. I falsified a travel voucher. It was 16 years ago. I did no time, was put on probation for 3 years, and had to reimburse the money that I gained from the falsification.

    What I did was wrong and I make no excuses for my behavior. I was young and stupid.

    Since the conviction, I have not been in trouble for anything. Not even a parking ticket.

    I have been turned down for job after job because of this one past indiscretion. In order to make a living, I finally had to start my own business.

    Most people are not as fortunate as I in being able to start a business. Most felons have even a harder time doing so.

    Are there any of you posting here who have never done something wrong, stupid, or just plain dumb? Did you have to pay for that mistake for the rest of your life? Have you had a good job that paid to support your family?

    In my case, the difference between me and you is, I put an extra 0 at the end of a payment figure and got caught. (no, it was not a bunch of money either. It was a very small sum, less than $5000)

    And the majority of you think I should be barred from employment for the rest of my life for that?!?!?!

    If you think that, then I am going to put in extra hours praying for your hardened heart.

    “Yet he who is without sin, cast the first stone”

  15. john says:

    (Fred Wishnie says:

    Hmmm!! Where are all the Christians in this god loving nation?)

    97% of inmate population are christians, Hmmm

  16. Bob says:

    Linda, your friend lied by not checking the box! Lets see here, his first contact with a potential employer starts with a lie. It can only go downhill from there.

  17. Roger Adams says:

    I made a stupid mistake 15 years go when I decided to ride my motorcycle home from a bar after have to many drinks. It cost me my right leg. So yes sometimes we DO have to keep on paying for the dumb things we did years ago. It sucks but its life. I dont blame anyone else for my foolishness and I dont whine and complain about the bad breaks I got. I brought it on myself.

  18. Zakk says:

    What a retarded article. Yes you have the right as a business owner to protect your assets, no you do not have the right as a business owner to know the business of your employees. Have you ever done anything wrong Nick? How would you like to have to deal with every mistake you ever made for the rest of your life.

    You make the assumption here that all ex-cons are going to screw their bosses. Most ex-cons will not steal while regular people do, why? Because we know the result.

    A person does their time, goes to college, becomes educated enough to become an asset to a company, and still it is your business what my past entails? Why? I don’t make fun of you for having sex with that hooker you thought was a chick, don’t rake you over the coals because you cheat people on a daily basis, that goes for all businesses, especially the big ones; they screw people constantly. And how about politicians, biggest criminals alive, hurting more people than the guy who stole your wallet, yet they have jobs.

    Take the time to walk in the shoes of people who have made dishonest mistakes, do a five year stretch, see if that doesn’t change your point of view.

  19. sal says:

    God judges the heart,
    man judges the action

  20. CriticalMass88 says:

    What a bunch of hypocritical, douche bag’s!!! I mean Paul Stough, let’s be fair. Lets institute the death penalty for all crimes…Even the crimes people never got caught for! This means you! EVERYONE in their lives has committed a crime at some point. No matter how big or small. Most never got caught. Or get caught.
    And to the brilliant, and well read Paul Talbot, who wrote:
    “Life dont come with do-overs. If you commit a crime your a criminal. I dont care how much time they do they are still criminals” Need I write more. For you, if bad grammar was a crime, you would of been executed long, long ago.
    For god’s sake man, people can and do change. No one is perfect.
    On the flip-side, there are many who do not deserve a third and fourth chance. However they still get them. Yet, the individual with a felony D.U.I. from 15 years back and has been sober 14 years, is screwed for life? Makes no sense. Let’s not treat the person who illegally possessed marijuana in their younger years like a serial rapist. Throwing the baby out with the bath water. Something’s are fundamentally wrong with this society.

  21. Paul Stough says:

    CriticalMass88- Evidently the sarcasm is my post didnt come through for you. My point was what then should be done with people who have committed crimes. If they cant get jobs, how do we expect them to get back on their feet, and become productive citizens.

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