When You Are at a Disadvantage
Being convicted of a crime is a life-altering event. Not only will you be punished by the criminal court, but you will also carry that conviction with you the rest of your life in the form of a criminal background. And, unfortunately, many people can access that information and potentially use it against you.
When you have a criminal background, looking for a job can make you feel like you are up against impossible odds. In a sea of dozens if not hundreds of other applicants, employers can afford to be choosy about whom they hire. Many just don't want to take a risk on someone who has a criminal past. Hiring someone with a criminal background is high risk and could open an employer up to potential liabilities.
While business owners want to protect their interests, this mindset puts many job seekers at a major disadvantage. Fortunately, you have certain rights that can mitigate that prejudice.
Your rights as an employee or potential employee are changing for the better. Today, laws are being passed that regulate how and when employers can ask about and use someone's criminal history against them. Likewise, more and more Californians are being granted rights regarding how and when they can clean their record, further breaking down the significant barriers to employment many of those with a criminal background face. Let's take a look at the valuable rights that can help you get a job.
When Applying to Jobs
You have a right to be given notice when an employer runs a background check on you. If you do not give your written permission, the employer cannot run a check, but you likely won't get the job. The employer must state the purpose of the check, provide the information for the background check company, notify you of your rights, and provide you a copy of the background check if you request it.
Find Out Before They Do
You should have clear notice before any employer tries to dig up dirt on you. Use this to your advantage to request a copy of your report before an employer does to make sure the information therein is accurate and up to date. This brings me to another important right: the right to access your background check information. In California, background checks run by most employers are called investigative consumer reports and contain information from many sources, including court records. Request a copy of your investigative consumer report, and exercise your right to dispute any inaccuracies.
What They Can See and What They Can't
Another very important right is your right to have only convictions appear on your investigative consumer report. Arrest records cannot be included in these types of reports if the arrest did not end in a conviction. Most employers cannot ask about your history of arrests if those arrests didn't end in a conviction. And, if they do discover an arrest, they cannot hold it against you. If they do, you might be able to file a lawsuit.
Perhaps one of your most valuable rights as a job seeker with a criminal background is your right to petition the court to clean your record—if you meet all the requirements—so certain pieces of information will be inaccessible to most employers. An employer cannot ask about convictions that have been dismissed. If you have a misdemeanor conviction or a wobbler felony conviction, you might be able to get it dismissed from your record, meaning most employers won't see it.
Knowing your rights is half the battle. Exercising and defending them is the other half. Many people don't take action to clean their record because they don't know if they are eligible, don't know what benefits it can bring, or don't know how to do it. Many people also don't know their rights regarding employment or seeking employment with a criminal background and make naive mistakes as a result. A thorough understanding of your rights can help you increase your chances of being hired and decrease your stress and anxiety when searching for a job.
Consult with a California criminal defense attorney with experience in record cleaning if you believe your criminal conviction is holding you back. Looking for a job is tough enough in this economy, and you deserve to have one less thing holding you back. A knowledgeable attorney can help you explore your options for cleaning your record so you can apply to jobs with confidence knowing your rights are protected, and your odds improved.
If you are in the Tulare, Fresno or Kings County area and want to clean your record, call experienced criminal defense attorney Christopher Martens today for expert counsel. At The Law Offices of Christopher Martens, we can help you clean your record and clear your name. With over ten years of criminal defense experience, attorney Martens is ready to defend your rights. Contact our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] to discuss a possible plan of action for your case.