Would You HIre an Ex-Con?

Joe Weinlick
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A standard application often inquiries about an applicant's background, especially convictions of felonies. While many hiring managers stay clear of individuals with a record during the hiring process, you may be missing out on valuable talent by dismissing these candidates. Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of hiring an ex-con before automatically trashing application materials that indicate a felony conviction.

Uncovering the Myths

A common myth is that hiring people who have committed a crime will create an unsafe work environment. However, research has disputed this myth. According to the National Workrights Institute, of the 90,000 complaints associated with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, only 400 were attributed to negligent hiring liability suits, with very few related to convictions of crimes. The myth that ex-cons are troublemakers has also negatively impacted the applicant process. Hiring managers often subscribe to stereotypes when former criminals submit applications, thus denying talent for the company and opportunities for qualified candidates.

Evaluating the Benefits

Research presented by the American Civil Liberties Union shows that employees with criminal histories are unlikely to create unsafe workplaces. In fact, the ACLU reports that ex-cons are proven to benefit companies with less turnover, higher retention, loyalty and reduced recruitment costs. Hiring managers who are open to employing people with felony convictions are also helping to boost the community and the economy as a whole.

Taking Necessary Steps to Ensure Success

Hiring managers open to employing people with criminal records must take precautions to protect the privacy of these individuals before, during and after the hiring process. According to the ACLU, it's necessary to set objectives for recruiting and hiring that are fair and unbiased. Begin by training your staff on antidiscrimination laws, especially members of your human resource teams who make hiring decisions.

Hiring managers should also consider involving senior management when making the decision to hire an individual who does not pass criminal record screenings and background checks. The ACLU also advises reviewing your screening policies and performing statistical analyses to evaluate whether your hiring practices are preventing individuals from gaining employment with your company.

Privacy is also crucial to ensure your company culture is not affected by bias or stereotyping. Keep applicant records confidential, regardless of whether felony convictions are present. In addition, consider documenting all hiring criteria when making hiring decisions. Training your staff on EEOC laws and privacy acts is the first step in preventing negligent hiring and discrimination claims in the workplace.

Choosing the best candidate for the job is challenging when your office is flooded with qualified applicants. However, making decisions based on felony convictions can rob your company of valuable talent. Take the steps necessary to train your hiring managers and human resources staff, and open up opportunities to ex-cons who are deserving of open positions at your company.

Photo Courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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  • Teena P.
    Teena P.

    Depends on the vibe I get. I've hired several to do home improvements.

  • Charmane O.
    Charmane O.

    My philosophy on hiring ex-felons is: "These people have paid their debt to society...they need a second chance. I have found that these citizens are the best workers as they have something to prove and they would like to provide for their families that have supported them during their time of need.

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