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Must You Disclose a Misdemeanor on a Job Application?
While not as severe as a felony offense, a misdemeanor it is still a criminal offense and may follow you for a long time. The good news is that arrests are not the same as convictions, and you do not have to disclose arrests that do not result in a conviction. In addition, deferred adjudication allows a person to serve a satisfactory probationary period that results in no conviction on our record. If you are looking for a job, it's a good idea to obtain your court records to see what your employer can see about you.
An employer must protect other employees and the business from individuals who may be dangerous. Hiring employees without asking about criminal history may subject the employer to negligent hiring claims by other employees. These claims arise when an employee endangers the welfare or rights of other employees. The employer must protect all employees and preserve the rights of the applicant in the inquiry and follow-up.
Many companies perform background checks or hire a company to check the backgrounds of potential employees. The Fair Credit Reporting Act is a federal law that requires the employer to obtain written authorization for a background check and to notify the applicant before making a background check. If your employer turns you down for employment as a result of a background check, the employer provides you with a copy and a summary of your rights. If you have a conviction expunged or removed, it does not show on the background check. An expunged record no longer exists, and you can complete the job application truthfully by reporting no convictions.
If you complete a job application and provide false information, your employer may dismiss you years later when he discovers the truth. Answer the questions honestly, and explain your answer at the job interview if asked. A criminal record, including misdemeanors, may be important in hiring positions dealing with vulnerable individuals such as children or the elderly. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission requires that an employer provide relevancy information if a potential employee files a complaint based on discrimination as a result of criminal information. The employer must show that the offense is relevant to the position, but that does not excuse you from being honest.
Emphasize what you learned from the conviction if a potential employer inquires about a misdemeanor on your record. Distance yourself in time and experience from the conviction. An employer should not ask about arrests that do not result in a conviction, but answer honestly and without confrontation if you want the job. A recent arrest that has not gone to trial may result in a conviction and has relevance for an employer. Disclose essential information to avoid later embarrassment or discharge.
- Ohio Employment Lawyers Association: Employee Rights and Information Center -- Criminal Records
- Texas Workforce Center: References and Background Checks
- Expert Law; Criminal Charges; Aaron Larson; March 2000
- U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; Policy Guidance on the Consideration of Arrest Records...; September 1990
Linda Richard has been a legal writer and antiques appraiser for more than 25 years, and has been writing online for more than 12 years. Richard holds a bachelor's degree in English and business administration. She has operated a small business for more than 20 years. She and her husband enjoy remodeling old houses and are currently working on a 1970s home.