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Job discrimination and criminal records

California residents might be interested to learn that a new bill has been passed that if signed by the governor will keep employers from being able to inquire about an applicant's criminal history on their job applications. The legislation is part of a nationwide movement that is asking lawmakers to make it easier for reformed criminals to obtain employment.

Supporters of the new law say that it would help eliminate job discrimination based on employee's criminal conviction rates. Sometimes employers automatically filter some applicants from their list of potential hires simply because they have criminal backgrounds. However, the new bill would require employers to first consider the qualifications of each employee before ruling them out based solely on their criminal backgrounds. Supporters of the law also say that any kind of workplace discrimination is unfair to potential employees, including discrimination based on criminal records.

While applications would no longer be able to ask for criminal backgrounds, employers would still be able to inquire into potential employees' criminal histories in interviews. Advocates of the bill say that it would give hope to numerous people who want to work, but are automatically shut out in the pre-screening process. According to a 2011 report released by the National Employment Law Project, one out of every four Americans has a criminal background.

People who feel they have been subjected to employment discrimination based upon age, sexual orientation, gender, religion or background might wish to speak to an attorney with experience in employment law. Such an attorney may be able to determine whether there may be remedies available to redress those grievances.

Source: RT, "New law could eliminate job discrimination for Californians with past convictions", September 24, 2013

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