Countless people are looking for a job right now, and employers seem to have their pick of just about anyone they would like. Even though this might be a good situation for employers, this is not a good situation for employees, who are left wondering what they have to do to get in the door. Sometimes, employers get so many applicants that they do not know how they will sift through all of the applications. As a result, they ask questions they can use to narrow the pool quickly. One of the questions they ask is, “are you a convicted felon?” Often, if the box is checked, the rest of the application is thrown out. Is this the right thing to do?
Having a Criminal Record Does Not Make Someone a Bad Person
First, it is essential to highlight why a lot of employers ask this question. They are trying to eliminate liability for themselves, as they do not want to hire someone with a criminal record who then turns around and harms an employee or customer. They could end up getting sued. Therefore, they do not want to take this chance and decide not to even look at applicants who have a felony on their record.
On the other hand, having a criminal record does not make someone a bad person. Sure, there are crimes, such as murder, that might warrant disqualification; however, a record number of people in the United States have a criminal record. Everyone makes mistakes, and people deserve to have a second chance. Therefore, employers should consider removing this personal question from job applications.
The Discriminatory Nature of Asking About a Criminal Record
Even though employers perform a background check to look for past crimes, employers need to use this information correctly. Suppose the offense is disqualifying for someone looking to complete that specific job. In that case, this is something that the employer should tell the applicant, with a valid reason, so that the applicant can find another line of work. On the other hand, if the crime is not related to the job the person is applying for, then that information is merely irrelevant.
Furthermore, there is the question of job licensure. A lot of people with professional degrees want to help people. They might have a misdemeanor on their record for a minor transgression years ago. Is that one incident enough to bar someone from getting a license to perform their job, let alone an actual job? This is something that needs to be revisited. Some might even say that this is denying someone the right to support themselves and their family members. This is something that has to be addressed now.
Looking to the Future: Attitudes Are Changing
There are still countless people trying to get a job but cannot do so because of a criminal record. A criminal record does not necessarily make someone a bad person, and this question can be viewed as discriminatory. If we want to reduce the prison population in this country, then we need to allow people with a criminal record the opportunity to get a job. If they cannot get a job, then it only makes sense that they are going to turn to a life of crime because this is the only way they will be able to support themselves and their families.