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Does a criminal record prevent you from getting a job?

If you are a job seeker in California, you probably know how competitive the market is. Whether you are looking for a job in technology, the medical field or are trying to break into the entertainment industry, there is tremendous competition.

Regardless of your employment background and how your other positions may have ended, you likely know it is just a matter of time until you get a job. However, if you have a criminal record, you might wonder if that will prevent you from gainful employment.

Setting the record straight

Some people may be of the belief that you are prohibited from working for the Federal Government if you have an offense on your record. However, that is not necessarily the case. Although, contributing considerations for a hiring decision may include:

  • The position you applied for
  • What kind of offenses are on your record
  • Your rehabilitation progress

Although there are no overarching regulations preventing you from federal employment, prohibitions may apply to certain jobs, specifically those involving firearms.

California's employment laws

The Fair Chance Act, which went into law in January 2018, made asking job applicants about a criminal record against the law in most situations - at least prior to making a job offer. While the initial application process ought to focus on your qualifications, employers may legally conduct a criminal background check upon making an offer of employment.

However, if an employer chooses to rescind an offer of employment due to your criminal history, they have to go through certain steps. The employer must:

  • Justify how or why taking back your job offer is merited
  • Inform you about a preliminary withdrawal of the offer
  • Give you an opportunity to provide more information
  • Provide you with written notice of their final decision to rescind the offer

If an employer withdraws your job offer, they must also inform you of your right to file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. If an employer backs out of a promising offer and you believe they may have acted illegally, you are well within your rights to explore your options.

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