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The 'criminal history' box on applications becoming a social issue

Rehabilitation; it's a word that is used in relation to people who have been charged with a crime. We talk a lot about second chances and giving those who need it a helping hand. Although this is the social discussion, when it comes to a career, it is nearly impossible to find employment. Why, because there is a little box on almost every application that asks if the applicant has ever been charged with a crime other than a traffic violation.

It might be a surprise to learn that approximately one out of every four people in the United States has some level of a criminal record. Checking that box often means that the applicant will immediately be rejected, but failing to check it could lead to termination if the employer ever finds out they lied. That is why advocates across the nation are trying to get that box eliminated from employment forms.

While Kansas and Missouri have yet to enact statewide legislation, seven other states already have done just that. New Jersey is even pushing legislation that would do the same. The legislation in that case would not completely bar an employer from considering a criminal record at all.

The legislation attempts to find a balance by allowing consideration from a background check for a period of time after a conviction occurred. Once 10 years had passed from the date of conviction, the employer would no longer be able consider it.

Serious crimes such as violent offenses would not be barred from consideration at all. However, those applicants who were denied would have a right under the new legislation to appeal the denial. During this appeal, the applicant can show evidence of rehabilitation and simply have a chance to explain.

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

If you have questions about employment-related situations, our Kansas City law firm has answers for civil rights violations of an employer.

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