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Can Employers Ask if You Have Been Convicted on a Felony on a Application?

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For ex-convicts, one of the most dreaded questions on a job application is whether or not they have ever been convicted of a felony. Many feel that the deck is unfairly stacked against them when it comes to finding a job. As a result, there is a movement to bar employers from asking this in some locations. However, it is still legal in many states.

Laws About the Question

In many states, employers can still legally ask applicants if they've been convicted of a crime. However, they are in some cases also barred from asking vague questions about a criminal record, such as whether or not you've ever been arrested or been treated for drug dependence. In some states, such as New York, employers are also legally required to consider an applicant as an individual who has committed a specific crime, and cannot simply refuse to hire anyone who has ever been convicted of a crime.

Movement Against the Question

In some states, employers have been barred from asking about crimes on a job application in recent years. For example, Connecticut passed a law barring public agencies from including that question on job applications in 2010. Massachusetts followed suit in 2012 with a law barring all businesses from asking applicants about their criminal record.

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