Any person that has ever been convicted of a crime can attest to the fact that discrimination based on a felony record is not a thing of the past.
Despite serving jail time as punishment for the crime, the stigma does not end. This is why we need to address felony discrimination and also understand where the law stands concerning it.
From housing discrimination to the more common episodes in places of work, felons are really having it hard. Perhaps, if more people knew the consequences of this bad behavior, it would have become a thing of the past.
Housing discrimination: Where does the law stand?
Felons are finding it hard to secure accommodation because of their felony records. But there is no law that supports this act. The Federal Housing Act forbids the following:
- Denying someone accommodation because they have a record of arrest
- Blanket bans on people that have a criminal record
- Inconsistent conductance of background checks
The conduct of a background check before granting accommodation is not illegal. As this is used to vet a person and confirm if they are who they say they are. However, when this is used as a tool for discrimination, it becomes wrong and the law firmly stands against it.
Whether motivated by fear or mere stereotyping, a landlord must not carry out background checks selectively on different people. They must all go through the same process because, whether they have a felony record or not, humans are equal.
There is only one instance where a landlord may refuse to grant accommodation based on a criminal record. And that is when there is undeniable and genuine evidence that the applicant is a threat to lives or property.
Employment discrimination: where does the law stand?
In many establishments, employers do not even consider people with misdemeanors, much less a criminal record. But this is wrong, as there is no law that says employers should reject people who have a criminal record.
It is legal for employers to carry out a background check on a job seeker. But where the problem lies is that even if this is used for vetting, it has become a discriminatory tool. Many employers are automatically disqualifying people with a criminal record based on the background check results.
The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), alongside a few courts, has decided that using a criminal record to disqualify people can be a form of racism.
This is because different groups are convicted of certain crimes at a high rate, so when people are denied employment on such a basis, they are actually denying jobs to a particular race. And this is illegal from any angle you look at it.
There is only one instance where the law permits employers to deny felons employment. And this is when the job description is closely related to the nature of the crime the applicant committed.