Banned For Good
When you are convicted of a crime in California, you end up with more than just a criminal record. You gain a stigmatization that will make it difficult to find a job, too. Needless to say, few employers will give an applicant with a criminal record a chance. And in certain fields, an applicant with a criminal conviction may be banned from employment indefinitely. Whether or not this is fair is a highly controversial debate. Opponents argue such hiring practices disproportionately affect minorities, while proponents argue they increase public safety.
Steps in the Right Direction
Fortunately, California lawmakers have taken measures to decrease the discrimination held against job seekers with criminal convictions. The “ban the box” initiative, which many states, cities, and counties have adopted, California included, require employers first to consider an applicant based on his or her qualifications and not their past. The initiative requires employers to remove questions regarding an applicant's criminal history on initial applications. These employers might still inquire about an applicant's criminal background after that point. But by simply omitting the criminal conviction question from initial applications, those with a criminal past are given a chance to get their foot in the door and to be sought by employers based on their qualifications and skills, not their conviction.
Protections Past the Initial Application Phase
The “ban the box” initiative, among others like it, gives California job seekers with criminal backgrounds a better chance of getting a callback or an interview during the initial hiring process. Despite this protection, employers can still run a background check or inquire about the applicant's criminal history after that initial stage when they are deciding whether or not to hire the individual. And employers still retain the right to deny employment to an applicant with a criminal background if it relates to or could affect the position or they believe the conviction reflects poorly on the candidate's honesty or trustworthiness. Certain industries ban the hiring of those with criminal convictions altogether, so there is still a long way to go before Californians with criminal records are free from the stigma of their past.
Employment bans typically affect fields that require certain occupational or professional licensures, such as medicine and education. Some licensing authorities universally deny those with criminal convictions, and some only deny those with certain convictions, such as DUIs. In California, there are numerous restrictions on state licensing, automatically disqualifying some for licenses while limiting others. Some authorities can use discretion when granting licenses to those with criminal convictions while others can't even consider applicants with a criminal background. Worse still, in some cases, a single criminal conviction can ban someone from obtaining a professional license for life, long after the person paid his or her debts to society. How these bans and policies can affect you will depend entirely on your conviction, what type of license or professional certificate you need to find employment in your field, and what the corresponding authority's policies on convictions are.
Employment bans are under harsh scrutiny from both the public and employers. Some argue employment bans do not increase public safety while others argue the opposite. If you have a criminal conviction, however, the bans can significantly hinder your ability to find a fulfilling job in your field of choice.
If you are concerned about the consequences of a criminal conviction on your employment, you should speak with an attorney. An attorney can help you understand how your specific conviction could affect your ability to work in a certain field or obtain a professional license. Then, he or she can explain your options for mitigating the effect your conviction will have. For example, you might be able to avoid the consequences of an employment ban by expunging your conviction from your record. Once expunged, certain employers and agencies will not be able to see your conviction, and you might not have to disclose it to every employer. This could work to reinstate your eligibility to work in and obtain licensure for certain fields.
Do you have questions about cleaning your criminal record? California attorney Christopher Martens knows California criminal defense and will work hard to clean your record so you can move on with your life. With over ten years of criminal defense experience, Mr. Martens has handled thousands of cases and has helped many Californians move on from their conviction. Serving the Visalia and Fresno areas, The Law Offices of Christopher Martens can provide experienced criminal defense counsel. Call our office at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.