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Employment and How a Criminal Record Can Affect It

For many people, they don't understand how one act can affect their whole lives. That's true when you are arrested for a criminal offense and convicted. Incarceration and fines may be a part of any sentencing you receive, and those penalties will be served or fulfilled, but there's more to it than that. Once you pay back your so-called debt to society, you still aren't off the hook. You'll realize this soon enough when you try to apply for a job.

A criminal record often spells trouble for people when searching for jobs. Some employers require that you advise them of certain misdemeanors or of any felony while others may not require it, but may come across your criminal record during a background check. And background checks are pretty common at most jobs today. Jobs are competitive. There's also liability issues to consider. So a criminal background check sometimes acts as a means to narrow down the list of candidates. But with that said, you also have rights.

Vitaly Sigal understands just what a criminal record can do to a person's future job or career prospects. It's not just people with professional licenses who are affected, but people in positions you come into contact every day, from store clerks to servers to bank tellers. Here's what you need to know if you have been charged in Los Angeles and what you should do to prevent a criminal record.

Criminal Records & Their Impact on Job Searches or Current Jobs in Los Angeles

California's ban-the-box legislation, known as the California Fair Chance Act, bars employer inquiries about an applicant's criminal history – but this prohibition is only at the initial stage. Once the applicant has been given a conditional offer of employment, the employer can inquire into the applicant's criminal background. If something shows up, an individualized assessment must be made before denying employment, and the employer must advise the applicant of which conviction is the subject of the withdrawal of the job offer.

An employer must have a legitimate business purpose to not hire an applicant or terminate an employee based on criminal history. Specifically, the applicant's criminal history must be related to the job in some aspects. The applicant must also be given a chance to respond or refute the conviction.

For example, financial institutions can deny a job applicant a job based on a theft or fraud-related conviction. As another example, people convicted of felonies cannot carry a firearm, so they are barred from some positions, like security guard positions, where they may be required to carry a weapon. In either situation, you – as the applicant – must be given an opportunity to refute the conviction.

So, an employer cannot inquire about a criminal conviction before a job offer but can after a conditional offer has been given.  There are, however, exceptions to AB 1008.

Exceptions to California's Ban the Box Law 

Certain industries can inquire about an applicant's or current employee's criminal history. These employers are typically:

  • employers with fewer than five employees
  • local or state government agencies, especially where the position is working with vulnerable persons (e.g., elderly or children)
  • farm labor contractors
  • criminal justice agencies (e.g., police departments, district attorney offices, county jails)
  • employers required by local, state, or federal law to conduct criminal background checks
  • employers required to perform a criminal background check or to restrict employment based on criminal history.

What Employers Cannot Ask in California

Even if employers in California are eventually – after the initial applicant – able to conduct a background check, there are some things the employer cannot inquire into. According to Labor Code §§ 432.7 and 432.8, California employers cannot ask job applicants about:

  • minor marijuana offenses more than two years old; and
  • arrests that didn't lead to convictions
  • pretrial diversion programs
  • post-trial diversion programs
  • juvenile court criminal history
  • felony or misdemeanor conviction that's been dismissed, sealed, expunged, or statutorily eradicated.

Your employer or potential employer cannot obtain any of the above information unless it comes from you – but as a reminder, it cannot ask about this information either. Further, if the employer does have this information, it cannot use it when making employment decisions. 

What Should You Do if Worried about Employment & Charged with a Crime in Los Angeles?

As you can see, a criminal record isn't the end of finding a job, but it can make it harder. Depending on what position you may want or industry you are involved in, finding or keeping the job may be harder. Fortunately, in California, the law makes it a little harder for employers to discriminate against applicants and employees with criminal backgrounds. That said, you can still be terminated or have a job offer rescinded. The best way to prevent any of this from happening is fighting the criminal charges. 

At Sigal Law Group, that's what we do: help you fight the charges. We put forth a defense strategy to make sure you get the best outcome available to you, whether that's a diversion program, another alternative program, or – among other possibilities – going to trial to fight for an acquittal. Contact Vitaly Sigal today to learn more about your options and how the charges you face can be fought.