Why Hiring People with a Criminal History can be a Good Idea

Pepsi Beverages just settled a law-suit filed by the Minneapolis EEOC, for race discrimination due to their hiring practices. Pepsi Beverages former hiring policy excluded any applicants who had been arrested, not necessarily convicted, from any permanent position. Over 300 black applicants were adversely effected when they put the policy in place that disallowed permanent employment for anyone who’s ever been arrested. In addition to the $3.13 million Pepsi Beverages had been ordered to pay these applicants, and the EEOC, they will be forced to provide job offers and training for people with minor criminal offenses. While it’s good this has all been settled and the proper parties have been compensated, it brings up the interesting topic of hiring people with a criminal history.

While not hiring people for arrests that never even led to conviction can be considered discriminatory, not hiring people who have been convicted of serious offenses is accepted and understood. If you are in the construction, manufacturing, transportation or many other labor-heavy industries, however, you may not shy away from these applicants. The Federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) may be applied if you hire a convicted criminal, not to mention you are helping an individual make a transition into normal life. There are benefits to hiring people with a criminal history, particularly in industries where there presence will not significantly increase the safety of the workplace. If your workplace seems like a good candidate for including people with criminal histories maybe it’s time to consider it.

Hiring people with serious violent, or theft related criminal convictions is out of the question for many employers due to liability alone. More minor criminal offenses on the other hand, often bring little to no additional liability, and depending on the offense and the position, probably shouldn’t be excluded immediately. There are many factors to consider when accessing an applicants offense including the nature of it, the time it took place, and of course how it relates to the job at hand. For instance, if a man who was convicted of a D.U.I. in 2001, applies for an in-office sales job, there’s no real reason not to hire him, other than he suffered from terrible judgement over ten years ago. If he is qualified, then his D.U.I. shouldn’t be an issue seeing as it doesn’t relate to the position at hand, and it was over ten years ago. This really comes down to a judgement call on the part of person doing the hiring, be sure to consider all of your options before coming to a final decision.

Pepsi Beverages learned the hard way, that background check use, can, under certain circumstances, be considered a discriminatory hiring practice. These kinds of law-suits, coupled with the tax incentives, make hiring people with criminal backgrounds a fiscally feasible idea. For many, there’s also a great personal satisfaction that comes with helping an individual that lost their way, integrate back into society in a productive way for both parties. If you have previously considered a criminal history a deal-breaker for prospective employees, maybe now is the time to rethink your stance on the issue.

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Aaron

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