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Criminal background questions

I know you cannot ask about arrests but only convictions. Can you ask the type of a conviction and the nature of the crime?

You are correct — under federal law an interviewer cannot ask a job candidate about arrests, but they can ask the job candidate about convictions. And, yes, they can ask about the nature of the crime and the type of conviction.

As an interviewer, the nature and type of crime are important information. If you are hiring staff for a daycare center, you probably do not want an employee who has been convicted of molesting a child. You may consider hiring an employee who stole a car or broke a window when he was 18.

But this is also subject to state law. Several states including Wisconsin have laws that prohibit employment discrimination against convicted felons. The New York Conviction law, which just went into effect on January 1, 2009, makes it illegal for an employer to use a criminal conviction as a reason to not hire an applicant — unless the crime was directly related to the type of work.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 21st, 2009 at 10:14 am and is filed under
Hiring and Staffing, Human Resources Management.
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