Having a criminal record in this nation has been a tarnish that could affect someone's employment, housing and educational opportunities for a lifetime.
However, as unemployment has reached an all-time low in recent years, California has taken initiatives to help those with a criminal past get back to work.
The hiring process
Employers were categorically denying employment to applicants with a criminal record. The "ban-the-box" amendment to California's Fair Housing and Employment Act (FEHA) sought to put an end to this practice by barring employers and landlords from questioning a candidate's criminal history in the application.
In fact, they aren't allowed to inquire about the applicant's criminal background at all until after they've made a conditional offer.
Can your employer prevent a worker's career from moving forward after learning of a criminal charge? In some cases, yes.
An employer can consider an employee's criminal background when thinking on matters of retention, hiring, promotion and benefits. However, legally, the employer is required to consider whether the conviction impacts the applicant's ability to do the job or presents unprecedented risks.
The employer must also notify the employee if they learn of their criminal background from someone else. They should then offer the employee the opportunity to explain the conviction.
Because California is an employment-at-will state, an employer may choose to terminate a worker's position for any reason unless it violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, you could potentially bring legal action if you can prove you were terminated because of your criminal history and that the incident could not have affected your performance at work or bring great risks.
To learn more about your rights at work and whether they may have been violated, consult with a lawyer to discuss your situation. An attorney can help you seek justice when you've been wronged.