Legal Restrictions on Ex-Offenders

The federal government, as well as many state and local governments, place special legal restrictions on people with criminal records. Many drug offenders, for example, are prohibited from acquiring public housing or receiving other forms of public assistance.

While employers ostensibly cannot discriminate against individuals solely on the basis of their criminal record (implicit in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and protected by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission []), they can refuse to hire if they can show that your background will negatively affect their workplace and business.

Also, several federal laws specify certain occupations that are off-limits or restricted for individuals with various types of criminal convictions, and certain jobs require mandatory criminal background checks for public safety purposes. Among these are:

State and local governments may include additional restrictions on certain occupations, especially any positions that deal with public safety and welfare, such as driving a bus or taxi. Most states also prohibit ex-offenders from acquiring certain professional licenses and vocational certifications. You need to inquire about any such restrictions before looking for a job or acquiring training and certification. Many government agencies have unwritten rules not to hire ex-offenders, even though they are not supposed to discriminate.

SOURCE: Adapted from Ron and Caryl Krannich, Ph.Ds, The Ex-Offender's Job Hunting Guide (Manassas Park, VA: Impact Publications). Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.