Misdemeanors That Prevent Employment: How to Navigate the Job Search with a Criminal Record

When you have a misdemeanor on your record, finding a job can be difficult. Employers often conduct background checks, and a criminal history can raise red flags during the hiring process. However, having a misdemeanor does not automatically disqualify you from employment.

In this blog post, we’ll explore how misdemeanors can affect your job search and what steps you can take to improve your chances of securing employment.

How Misdemeanors Affect Employment

Misdemeanors, while less severe than felonies, can still have a significant impact on your ability to find a job. Some industries, such as healthcare, education, and finance, may have stricter hiring policies and may be less likely to hire individuals with a criminal record.

Additionally, certain misdemeanors may be viewed more negatively by employers than others. These include:

  • Theft and shoplifting
  • Assault and battery
  • Drug possession and drug-related offenses
  • Driving under the influence (DUI)
  • Domestic violence
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Vandalism and property damage
  • Trespassing
  • Prostitution and solicitation

The nature of the job and the nature of the offense are often important. For example, if the job involves handling money, then employers are more likely to be concerned about offenses like stealing, forgery, and bad checks. Likewise, if the job involves driving, then driving-related offenses like DUI become more important.

It’s important to note that while misdemeanors can affect your job prospects, they do not define your worth as a candidate. Many employers are willing to consider job seekers with criminal records, especially if the offense is unrelated to the position or if the individual has demonstrated personal growth and rehabilitation since the conviction.

Illinois’ “Ban-the-Box Law” and Employment Discrimination Protection

In 2014, Illinois passed the Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act, also known as the “Ban-the-Box Law.” This legislation prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history on initial job applications. The law aims to provide job seekers with criminal records a fair chance to showcase their qualifications and skills before being asked about their criminal history.

Under the Ban-the-Box Law, employers can only inquire about criminal history after the applicant has been selected for an interview or after a conditional job offer. This allows job seekers to present themselves positively and demonstrate their suitability for the position before their criminal record becomes a factor.

Additionally, the Illinois Human Rights Act prohibits employment discrimination based on criminal history unless there is a substantial relationship between the offense and the job or if hiring the individual would pose an unreasonable risk to property or safety. Employers must consider factors such as the nature and gravity of the offense, the time that has passed since the conviction, and the relevance of the offense to the specific job duties. Under the Illinois Human Rights Act, an employer must provide notice to applicants and employees, if it discriminates on the basis of criminal conviction history.

Disclosing Your Misdemeanor

When applying for jobs in Illinois, be honest and transparent about your criminal history. While you will not normally be asked about your criminal history on initial job applications, you should be prepared to discuss it openly and honestly during the interview or after receiving a conditional job offer. Again, in Illinois, an employer must notify you, if it discriminates on the basis of criminal history.

When disclosing your misdemeanor, focus on the steps you’ve taken to rehabilitate and improve yourself since the conviction. Emphasize any education, training, or volunteer work you’ve completed that demonstrates your commitment to personal growth and being a valuable employee. Be prepared to explain the offense’s circumstances and what you’ve learned from the experience.

Expungement and Sealing of Records

In some cases, you may be eligible to have your misdemeanor conviction expunged or sealed. Expungement removes the conviction from your record while sealing restricts access to the record.

If you successfully have your misdemeanor expunged or sealed, you may not be required to disclose it to potential employers. This can significantly improve your chances of passing a background check and securing employment.

At Rose Legal Services, when clients hire us to file for an expungement, we go above and beyond to ensure that your expunged or sealed record is properly reflected across all relevant platforms. We compile a comprehensive list of background check companies and ensure that they receive a copy of your expungement order, removing your conviction from their databases.

Strategies for Job Seekers with Misdemeanors in Illinois

Navigating the job search process with a misdemeanor on your record can be challenging, but there are several strategies you can employ to improve your chances of success:

  1. Take advantage of the Ban-the-Box Law — Focus on crafting a strong resume and cover letter that highlights your skills, experience, and achievements.
  2. Network and seek referrals — Reach out to friends, family, or former colleagues who can vouch for your character and work ethic.
  3. Consider expungement or sealing — In some cases, you may be eligible to have your misdemeanor conviction expunged or sealed. Consult with a criminal defense attorney to determine your eligibility and navigate the expungement process.
  4. Be proactive and honest during interviews — When asked about your criminal history, be prepared to discuss your misdemeanor honestly. Focus on what you’ve learned from the experience, how you’ve grown, and the steps you’ve taken to rehabilitate and improve yourself.
  5. Explore job placement resources — Take advantage of job placement agencies, nonprofit organizations, or government programs that specialize in helping individuals with criminal records find employment.
  6. Focus on more accepting industries and positions — Some industries, such as construction, manufacturing, or hospitality, may be more willing to hire individuals with misdemeanors.

By employing these strategies and approaching your job search with determination, you can improve your chances of finding meaningful employment, even with a misdemeanor on your record.

Don’t Let a Misdemeanor Hold You Back – Take Action Today

If you’re struggling to find employment due to a misdemeanor on your record, you have options. At Rose Legal Services, we assist with expungement and record-sealing petitions, giving you a chance at a fresh start and a brighter future.

Our attorneys can determine your eligibility for expungement or sealing and guide you through every step of the process. We understand the importance of clearing your criminal record when securing employment, and we’re dedicated to helping you achieve your goals.

Don’t let a misdemeanor hold you back from pursuing your dreams. Take action today and schedule a confidential consultation with our legal team.

Author Bio

Scott Rose, an experienced criminal defense lawyer and founder of Rose Legal Services, has been practicing law for over 20 years. He is dedicated to representing clients facing criminal charges and providing legal representation on various cases, including DWI, misdemeanor, and felony cases.

After graduating from the University of Virginia School of Law, he gained valuable experience working for a United States Senator and as a Judicial Law Clerk for the Chief Judge of a United States District Court. Throughout his legal career, W. Scott Rose has committed to providing high-quality legal representation to his clients, earning him a spot in the National Top 100 Trial Lawyers.

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