Maybe. There are many types of job discrimination that can happen after prison. Some forms are illegal. Others are not. Regardless, employers might discriminate against you over your criminal record.
What does job discrimination after prison look like?
Job discrimination after prison comes in a few ways. Some are easier to see than others:
- Hiring. Some jobs may not hire you if you went to prison.
- Pay. Finding work can be hard after prison. Some employers use this as a reason to pay people less.
- Treatment. Employers may treat you differently than other workers if you went to prison. They could keep you away from “good” shifts. You might get denied for a promotion or a raise.
- Scheduling. Some work schedules are better than others. An employer may give you the “worst” shifts at awkward times or times when it’s hard to make money.
These are not the only forms of discrimination. But they are common ways employers discriminate.
Is it legal for employers to discriminate against you for your prison record?
Yes and no. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in the workplace. It focuses on differences in treatment and impact. In theory, this should protect you. However, it doesn’t always do that.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces these rules. But from time to time, employers do skirt the rules. The EEOC indicates that a business must prove that job discrimination after prison is a “business necessity.” If they can, they can discriminate against you.
Because of this, there are entire industries that do not accept people with criminal record. They can do this through licensing. Jobs that require a license have boards that approve people for that license. These boards are allowed to use “moral character” as part of their judgement. It’s possible that these boards might emphasize a prior criminal conviction when deciding whether to deny a license..
What types of jobs can former inmates get?
Certain crimes might prevent you from working in specific industries. For example, a sex crime can prevent you almost entirely from working with children. Financial crimes can keep you from working with money.
However, there are still many places to work after you go to prison. In fact, the BOP even offers incentives to some companies to hire former inmates. The UNICOR program trains people in prison. After prison, the program helps companies employ them.
The Department of Labor also has its own program. This program covers companies that hire felons. It insures them against any losses that might come if a former inmate steals or commits any crime on the job.
Companies can also claim a tax credit when they hire a former inmate. This program is called the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC).
Some forms of job discrimination after prison are legal. Others are not. You may face discrimination if you were in prison. This can come in many forms. If a job can prove that it is a “business necessity” to not hire a former inmate, they can choose not to. Trades that require licenses might deny them to people with criminal records. But many companies will hire people after prison. In fact, the government offers tax breaks and other incentives to hire former inmates.