Job Search Difficult for Ex-Offenders

By James Crawford

Published on October 23, 2012

It’s generally against the law for most employers to discriminate against job applicants on the basis of race and national origin, among other characteristics. But these same employers routinely refuse to even consider hiring someone with a criminal record. The applicant with a record goes to the bottom of the pile – or doesn’t get into the pile at all.

And it often doesn’t matter the type of conviction. Employers don’t necessarily evaluate the difference between being convicted for a traffic offense like DUI versus a violent crime like first-degree murder. In other words, a record is a record.

Plenty of job-seekers have criminal records. And plenty of job-seekers with criminal records also happen to be a member of a minority group. Thus, there’s been a disparate impact on these job-seekers based on race and national origin. In other words, the exclusion of a large group of people from the job market based solely on a criminal record means that racial minorities are getting hurt the most when it comes to making a living.

And the trend has only gotten worse as electronic record keeping improves, granting potential employers relatively easy access to a job applicant’s past.

People Need Jobs, With or Without a Criminal History

Those who have been convicted and served time for offenses often have few resources to which they can turn for support. But resources are crucial to successfully re-entering the community.

It should go without saying, but the lack of a living wage is a sure way to get back into trouble. People need to eat. They need to support their families. They need to find meaningful work.

Here’s the paradox: even though you’ve served your time, you’re still getting punished, because you can’t find a job due to a criminal record. And when you can’t find a job, you’re more likely to get involved in what got you into trouble in the first place.

New Federal Guidelines for Employers

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has long been aware of the problem.

One of the EEOC’s responsibilities is to provide guidelines that help employers comply with federal laws against discrimination in hiring. Though it will remain to be seen, the EEOC’s guidelines could help reverse the trend. These guidelines state that the policy of excluding applicants from a job position solely based on a criminal record violates federal law, unless employers show that the policy is job-related and consistent with a business necessity. Moreover, an arrest is not a conviction, and employers cannot deny employment based on an arrest record.

Perhaps most importantly, employers should consider the nature of the offenses represented on a criminal record – not simply exclude the applicant by default. Just because you’ve got a record doesn’t mean you won’t make a great employee.

The Author

James Crawford

James E Crawford Jr. is a criminal defense attorney representing clients in all state and federal courts throughout Maryland.

He can be reached via E-Mail at:

The Law Offices of James E. Crawford Jr. has a long history of successfully handling criminal cases. Jim Crawford, founder and principal attorney of the firm knows that if you are being prosecuted, it can be a tremendous burden and unbelievably stressful not just for you, but for your family and loved ones. You need someone in your corner who understands the process and can guide you through it.

The practice of criminal law is an art. There is really no “right way” or “wrong way” to defend someone from criminal charges. The bottom line is how you perform for your clients. Attorney James Crawford’s past performance speaks for itself. He has tried many cases and has the ability and knowledge to help you when you need it most.

Article picture: Pixabay


Law & Philosophy