How to Explain Your Criminal Record to Potential Employers - Wisconsin Criminal Law Firm

By Carlos Gamino

When you’re applying for a job, it’s not uncommon for employers to ask if you’ve been convicted of committing a crime. About one in four Americans of working age have some kind of criminal record—but in some cases, that criminal record prevents them from getting a job. As Milwaukee criminal defense lawyers, we often field questions about whether people have to talk to their employers (or potential employers) about their previous criminal histories.

Do You Have to Tell Potential Employers About a Criminal Record?

There are a few legal protections for people who have criminal records, including protection against discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Employers who request criminal background checks must:

  • Have your written consent before conducting a background check on you
  • Tell you if they intend to disqualify you based on the contents of your background check
  • Provide you with a copy of your background check report
  • Give you a second notice if they make a final decision not to hire you based on the information in the report

It’s also illegal for an employer to make job decisions based on an applicant’s arrest or conviction record, but there are some exceptions, including:

  • Whether you have a pending arrest charge that substantially relates to the job for which you’re applying
  • Whether you have a conviction that substantially relates to the job for which you’re applying
  • Whether you’re applying for a job such as burglar alarm installation or security
  • Whether you’re applying for a position that requires bonding and your criminal record would make that impossible

You do have rights as a prospective employee, so it’s good to keep them in mind before you begin applying for new work.

What if You Have to Explain Your Criminal Record?

If you’re in a position where you have to explain your criminal record to a potential employer, it’s a good idea to be as honest as possible. If you’re not honest, you may get hired—but what if your employer finds out about it later?

Do You Need to Talk to a Criminal Defense Attorney?

If you’re in legal trouble and need to talk to a Wisconsin criminal defense attorney, you can call us at 414-383-6700. Our phones are answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week—we’re here if you need us. If it’s easier, contact us online. We’ll evaluate your situation and give you case-specific legal advice.

Carlos Gamino