American employers are currently facing a rare problem. Because of the pandemic and a multitude of other factors, there are for more open jobs than there are workers to fill them. For many in the labor force, this has made it far easier to push for higher wages and to switch to more fulfilling jobs. But not every eligible worker is so lucky.
Unfortunately, one of the reasons employers are having a hard time finding workers is that a large group of potential candidates is being purposely overlooked: Americans with criminal records. According to a recent nationwide study, inability to find work because of an arrest or conviction is particularly impacting men between the ages of 24 and 35 years old.
Victims of discriminatory policies
Discrimination based on criminal history is not new. Sadly, it has been a long-standing policy for many businesses. Many employers adopted an attitude of “once a criminal, always a criminal,” and this prejudice permeates the employment market.
There are at least two major problems with these policies however. First, they are contradicted by evidence. Research shows that many people with a conviction on their record will not face additional arrests or convictions. And the longer someone has gone free without a new conviction/arrest, the less likely they are to re-offend.
Second, policies against hiring those with a criminal record rarely ever look at the specific offenses committed. It makes sense to bar certain types of offenders from certain types of jobs. But many qualified candidates are being barred from jobs for minor offenses like non-violent drug possession convictions from decades ago. This prejudice hurts both those with criminal records and employers trying to fill open positions.
The importance of fighting even minor criminal charges
In recent years, activists and advocacy groups have been pushing for changes to these blanket policies barring workers with criminal records. But like all social change, this could take years or decades to realize.
In the meantime, if you are facing criminal charges, you need to understand that the consequences of a conviction could last much longer than whatever sentence is imposed by the court. You could face job discrimination for years or a lifetime. For this and many other reasons, it is important to aggressively fight criminal charges with the help of an experienced attorney.