How Criminal Charges Affect Your Job Search

A criminal record can impact your life in a number of ways, but it does not have to affect your future employment opportunities. There are legal recourses that can protect you from unfair hiring practices.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

The Fair Credit Reporting Act is a federal law that regulates how consumer reporting agencies use your information. When employers conduct background checks, they are must adhere to FCRA standards to ensure accuracy, fairness, and privacy.

Background Check Limitations

Employers are only permitted to access background information that is less than seven years old. But, depending on your state of residence, there may be exceptions. In Maryland, there is an exception to the seven-year restriction if the salary for the position equals or is expected to equal $20,000. Additionally, if the position involves working with children or seniors, there may be additional background check requirements.


In Maryland, employers may not inquire through applications, interviews, or other means about charges that have been expunged. Employers may not discharge or refuse to hire a potential employee on the basis of refusing to disclose information regarding such charges.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Because of higher arrest and incarceration rates for minority groups, employers who exclude all applicants with a criminal record can be charged with racial discrimination. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has issued guidelines to address criminal records while avoiding racial discrimination. Before dismissing a potential employee due to a criminal record, the employer must first consider the nature of the crime, how recently it occurred and what rehabilitation steps the potential employee has taken. Employers may only inquire about convictions that are directly related to a prospective job. For instance, checks regarding credit and driving records are only conducted if the employee will be handling money and driving.

Enforcing Background Checks

Prior to conducting background checks, employers must obtain written consent from the applicant. If an employer chooses to disqualify an applicant based on their report, the employer must provide a copy of the report to the applicant. The applicant has the right to dispute and/or explain the findings of the report and address its accuracy.

Criminal Defense Lawyer Assistance

In today’s job market, it is much more difficult to compete if you have a criminal record. However, applicants still have legal rights that protect them from unfair hiring practices. To learn more about your rights post-conviction, contact criminal defense attorney Doug Lauenstein today.