Under federal law, employers in California can ask a potential employee or applicant about their criminal history. While employers are prohibited from discriminating against a potential employee using information from a criminal history, a criminal conviction may affect the individual’s ability to find long-term employment after a sentence is served.
The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission states that in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VII disallows employers from using criminal history information if the charges or convictions do not influence the reliability, safety or responsibility of the worker. If the practices and policies greatly disadvantage protected groups such as Hispanics and African Americans, companies are prohibited from using the information to make a hiring decision.
State law may also limit the use of conviction and arrest records. Employers may be required to wait to ask about a criminal conviction until later in the hiring process. When an employer requests a criminal history, they must follow the guidelines set up in the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
The National Conference of State Legislatures determined that 1 in 3 adult Americans have a criminal record. This is more than 77 million people who may have a hard time getting a job. Companies may place policy barriers that make it hard to get a job. These could include good moral character clauses and blanket bans.
Those who attempt to obtain an occupational license with a criminal history face up to 15,000 law provisions across federal and state laws that make it more difficult to obtain one. Because a minimum education level is often required for occupational licensing, many offenders find they do not have the appropriate education to get a higher paying job. This greatly minimizes the chances they will be able to find employment that pays the bills.