When The Hole In The Resume Is A Prison Stretch

With the enormous numbers of American being incarcerated, and the nature of what many nonprofits, especially smaller organizations, it is no stretch to see that the sector could have to deal with applicants with criminal backgrounds.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has made a wide variety of material on its website, including an online resource for small businesses, the Small Business Resource Center (SBRC).

The site offers the following advice about federal employment discrimination laws:

  • Treat applicants with similar criminal records consistently. For example, do not refuse to consider applicants of an ethnic group if the organization considers applicants of other national origins with the same or similar criminal records.
  • Avoid using an employment policy or practice that excludes people with certain criminal records if the policy or practice significantly disadvantages individuals of a particular race or national origin, and does not accurately predict who will be a responsible, reliable or safe employee.
  • If applicants are to be asked for criminal history information, consider waiting until later in the hiring process to do so. That provides an opportunity to consider applicants’ qualifications before assessing the relevance of criminal history.
  • Determine how the applicant’s criminal history relates to the risks and responsibilities of the job.
  • Treat arrest records differently than conviction records.
  • Consider reviewing the accuracy and relevance of a conviction record before basing an employment decision on that record.
  • Give applicants an opportunity to explain their criminal history. Inform applicants if they might be excluded from consideration because of prior criminal conduct.