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A criminal record is a substantial barrier to a person finding employment, according to a 2010 poll by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM).   A combined 92 percent of the respondents used criminal background checks during the hiring process.

The poll showed that 73 percent of respondents use criminal background checks for all applicants and another 19 percent use them for select jobs.    These combined numbers are up from a smiler study that showed about 84 percent of employers conducted criminal background checks in 2004.

The motivations for employers to conduct background checks were varied.  The poll found that 20 percent of organizations conduct criminal background checks on job candidates because they are required to do so by law. While 61 percent chose that it is primarily to ensure a safe work environment for employees and 39 percent chose that it is to reduce or prevent theft or other criminal activity.

Employers cannot legally exclude all job applicants who have criminal records from consideration regardless of how minor or recent/long ago the offense.  Under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines, “an absolute bar to employment based on the mere fact that an individual has a conviction record is unlawful under Title VII.”  However, according to the 2010 SHRM poll, when making a hiring decision, about 97 percent of HR professionals take into consideration the severity of the criminal activity, 95 percent look at the number of convictions as well as the length of time since the criminal activity and 93 percent take into consideration the relevance to the position.

The SHRM poll also found that if adverse information is found, 63 percent of organizations offer the candidate an opportunity to explain the circumstances before a hiring a decision is made.  This allows the chance for the individual to share their side of the story and provide any information they feel should be mentioned.

“These results show the increased need for expungement for job applicants who are eligible for expungement,” said attorney Natasha Buchanan.

The complete poll results can be seen at:

Written by Mathew Higbee, Esq

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