Most employers want an idea of who you are before they make a final hiring decision. This is why pre-employment screening is important to many business owners. As someone with a previous conviction, however, you may feel that you are already at a disadvantage when competing with others for jobs. Under federal laws, you have rights regarding pre-employment screening and how potential employers may use that information.
While federal laws do not prevent potential employers from inquiring about your criminal background, Equal Employment Opportunity laws do limit how they can use that information.
Protections to prevent discriminatory behavior
According to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s website, employers may violate the law depending on how they use the information from your pre-employment screening. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from using your criminal history to deny you employment in the following situations:
- When comparing two candidates with similar criminal histories, they discriminate against you based on your race, color, gender, religion, or national origin
- They deny you employment based on your criminal history, which creates a severe disadvantage to you as a Title VII-protected person and the information cannot accurately determine if you are suitable for the position.
Limits to the use of criminal background history
Many states now limit how an employer may use criminal background history to make hiring decisions. In North Carolina, you do not have to disclose your criminal charges if a judge expunged your charges or arrest. In addition to this, employers cannot legally ask you about expunged criminal history.