What is covered under anti-discrimination laws

Discrimination against ex-offenders has become more common during the beginning of the 21st Century, mainly because there are more ex-offenders. Anti-discrimination laws are present to help protect discrimination against ex-offenders and others, but don't always work. The best way to make use of these laws is to know what is covered under anti-discrimination laws and what is not.

In most cases, an employer can not have a blanket policy prohibiting the employment of ex-offenders because of possible discrimination against people of color or ethnic background. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recommends that employers consider the following when looking at the criminal record:

  • The nature and severity
  • The length of time passed since conviction
  • The nature of the job being applied for

It should be noted that this does not always occur, and you may not know if you are disqualified because of the criminal conviction.

What questions can an employer ask without discrimination against an ex-offender?

  • The relevance of the offence to the job
  • How long ago the conviction occurred
  • How often has the ex-offender committed a crime
  • The nature of the offense
  • Were the offenses work related
  • What your attitude is regarding the offense
  • What you have done since the offense to change direction (treatment programs, volunteering, education or skills training)

The one main issue you will come across regarding discrimination against ex-offenders and the anti-discrimination laws is that these laws were written before the largely available information about criminal backgrounds was on the internet. In today's society it is not hard to find a person or their background by searching online. The most common problem is when an employer uses criminal background checks to narrow down an applicant pool. While there are anti-discrimination laws in effect, they have no real bearing on the information being available or how it is used without consent.

If you do get an interview, bear in mind you will need to conduct yourself appropriately and do the following:

  • Sell the employer on your skills and training outside of the criminal background
  • Admit responsibility to the activity and show how you have moved away from that behavior
  • Stress forward thinking actions and a willingness to be a positive member of the workforce
  • Show continuing efforts for improvement and achievement

If you are inellegible for hiring because if your criminal status, the employer must inform you of this as well as the reasoning behind it. This allows you a chance to respond if you are able. Some issues which you will have no control over include the following:

  • Any job requiring firearms or weapons
  • If you committed robbery, any job handling cash
  • If your crime involved children, any job involving minors
  • If your crime involved prescription medication, any job with nursing homes, or medical fields
  • Many jobs requiring certain certificates or certification may not be allowed

Knowing what situations and circumstances are covered under the anti-discrimination laws will help you know where to look for work. Knowing what is regarded as discrimination against ex-offenders will help you look for possible targeting questions or requirements.