Existing laws provide some protection for people with conviction history in the search for employment. However these laws remain relatively unknown and unenfocred. Depending on the type of employment opportunities sought, there are different laws that come into play.
The most broadly-applicable law, regulating both private and public employers, is Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employers from denying employment to a job applicant based on the applicant’s conviction history unless they have found a “nexus” between the nature of the job sought and the nature of the conviction history, as well as the time that passed since the last conviction.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has started to enforce this law aggressively in the past few years, and a complaint may be initiated via the EEOC intake form available online.
Background check companies are prohibited by California’s Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act (ICRAA) from reporting convictions beyond 7 years for employment purposes. Both ICRAA and the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) have additional safeguards to ensure that a background check report for employment purposes is done fairly and accurately. A New Way of Life works to challenge violations of these laws.
To improve their earning power, many people with conviction histories turn to occupational licensing, e.g. Certified Nurse’s Assistant (CNA), “Guard Card“, and criminal record exemption to work in a licensed care facility. These licenses always involve a background check through the California Department of Justice, and it is often the case that licensing agencies will deny issuing a license unless challenged.
It is highly recommended that a person with a conviction history who is seeking an occupational license contact a private attorney to represent her through the process. In some limited cases A New Way of Life represents license applicants in the appeals process or makes referrals.
For more information on some of these topics and more, please download our informational brochure for job seekers with conviction history.