Getting a Job with a Felony Conviction — Tagged for Life?

In 2010 it was estimated that 1 in 12 persons residing in America have a felony conviction.  For these individuals it becomes extremely difficult to find and keep employment.  In El Paso, I see people every year who get fired when their employer finds that they have a felony conviction.  This is true even they disclosed the conviction when they are hired.  Unfortunately, the convictions effect men and monorities at a much higher rate.  In Fact it has been estimated that 25% of US adult population has a felony conviction.  This percentage is much higher among African-American Men. The ethnic and racial makeup of state prisons and local jails is the main place that US residents are held and where more than nine-in-ten (91%) of the 2.3 million inmates in this country are held. Among inmates held in state prisons, 19% were Hispanic, 36% were white and 39% black.  However, a felony conviction has devastating effects on a job prospect.  So much so that the Federal Government actually offers employers a tax credit up to $9,600.00 a year if an employer will hire a person convicted of a felony (if hired within 1 year of conviction or release from prison). (

So what can you do if you have a felony conviction and can’t get or keep a job?  Unfortunately, not much.  The EEOC has taken the position that because felony convictions effect minorities to a much greater degree than non-minorities.  The EEOC has warned employers to limit their disqualifications of felony convictions.  However the case law has not been favorable for convicted felons.  There is a website that has some excellent resources.

As the Country that incarcerates more of its citizens than any other western country we are in danger of disinfranchising millions of Americans.  It use to be that once a person paid for their crime they were given a new lease on life.  But this is no longer true and with the Internet a persons past criminal background is just an Internet click away.  There has been some attempt to limit an employers right to use a conviction against an employer but at least in Texas (El Paso, Texas) there is not much you can do.  However if you are fired for a felony conviction in the past and you believe that this was just an excuse to fire you because of your race, color, religion, age, gender, disability or because you filed a workers’ compensation claim or were injured at work then you may still have a possible claim.

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