Seeking Work with a Criminal Record? Know Your Rights.

96 percent of employers conduct some form of background checks before hiring. More than a fifth of Americans have a criminal record, with thousands more added daily. When you’ve done your time and you’re simply trying to find gainful employment to get your life back to some kind of normal, the job hunt is where those two facts intersect; being on the other side of a criminal record check in Charlotte NC can leave you feeling like you’re between a rock and a hard place. What can you do? Barefoot Professional Investigations has answers — and help.


Background Checks and Legal Protections for Ex-Felons

In three professions — barbering, education, and medicine — a criminal record is an automatic disqualification from employment per North Carolin ma law. In other circumstances, however, those with criminal records have some legal protections on their side.

Federal protections come from The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The FCRA has provisions that protect applicants ahead of a background check; consent must be solicited, and you have the right to refuse. You also have the right to see what your background check uncovers. Title VII typically covers discrimination based on protected class, but it’s also been more broadly interpreted to prevent discrimination in hiring, including by allowing you to contest the results of a check. 

Here in North Carolina, there are also state and local protections. Close to home, Mecklenburg County “bans the box” for county employment, but private businesses aren’t required by state law to do so. There’s also a 2018 law that expanded the Certificates of Relief program, part of which sequesters expunged convictions from background checks. 

For all that, there is one thing you should be aware of with regard to criminal record checks: while an employer can disclose their reasons for not hiring you, they are legally forbidden to share the criminal record on which they based that decision. Yes, you read correctly; if an employer sees your record — regardless of what’s there, regardless of whether it’s accurate, and regardless of the fact that it’s your record — they are not allowed, by law, to share it with you.


Should You Run a Background Check on Yourself?

So if employers aren’t allowed to share the particulars of your own record with you, what recourse do you have? One option is to run a background check on yourself. By doing this, you’ll be seeing the same information that employers see when they’re conducting a background check. 

This serves two important purposes. To begin with, like credit records, background information isn’t always 100% accurate. Finding those inaccuracies, or items that appear on your record that should not (like an expunged conviction), can help you ensure that the information a hiring manager gets is correct. It serves another purpose as well; once you know what someone can see of your past, you can take the time during your interview preparations to decide how you’ll answer the inevitable questions about your past — or even head them off, should you choose to do so.


Resources for Job Hunters with Criminal Records

If you find that your past is still impacting you here in the present, there are organizations like the North Carolina Department of Commerce and the NC Urban Survivor Union that can help you as you get back on track. But there’s a problem with background checks that cuts against employers and prospective employees alike. While employers often rely on third parties for background checks, not all background check services are as thorough, or as accurate, as they should be. Having your background check run by Barefoot Professional Investigations gets you the full picture so you know what to expect. 

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