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FAQ / What to Do if You Have Been Denied a Job, Fired or Denied a Promotion Because of Your Criminal Record

This chapter is intended to provide accurate, general information regarding legal rights relating to employment in Washington, DC. Yet because laws and legal procedures are subject to frequent change and differing interpretations, the Employment Justice Center cannot ensure that the information in this fact sheet is current nor be responsible in anyway for how you use it. Consult an attorney or the appropriate agency about your rights in a particular situation.
There is no statute that specifically prohibits employment discrimination against persons with criminal records, but federal and D.C. laws do offer some protection. Under Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), a public or private employer with 15 or more employees cannot discriminate against a worker because of that worker’s race. See 42
U.S.C. § 2000e-2 (2000). Similarly, the D.C. Human Rights Act prohibits race discrimination against individuals by D.C. public or private employers regardless of size. See D.C. Code § 2-1402.11 (2000). Finally, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) regulates the use of private investigative services that do background checks as well as how employers can use this information against their employees. Each of these laws, the protections they offer, and a description of how to enforce your rights is described below.
If you think you were denied a job, fired from a job or denied a promotion or other job benefits because you have a criminal record, you may have a race discrimination claim against your employer under Title VII or the D.C Human Rights Act. In addition, if you are African-American or Hispanic, it may be a violation of your rights under Title VII for a company to refuse to hire you or fire you because of your criminal record because courts have found that asking employees about their criminal record has a disparate impact on African-Americans and Hispanics. "Disparate impact" means that a policy of asking about criminal records hurts African-Americans and Hispanics more than it hurts Caucasians or Asians, and that may be illegal. It is important to note that you must be able to prove that you were fired/not hired because you have a criminal record in order to successfully accuse your employer of race discrimination.

Keywords: background check, criminal record, background checks, criminal records,


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