You are either not logged in or not registered with our community. Click here to register.
 
December 10, 2016, 04:32:17 PM

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length

Click here if you are having problems.
Default Wide Screen Beige Lilac Rainbow Black & Blue October Send us your theme!

Hark!  The Herald!
Holiday Issue 2016

Wiki Blogs Dicebot

Author Topic: Discrimination of Felons in the Workplace  (Read 4979 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline ADarkstarTopic starter

Discrimination of Felons in the Workplace
« on: April 21, 2011, 12:40:00 AM »
This is a paper that was written for one of my business classes. Comments welcome.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Discrimination of Felons in the Workplace
ADarkstar
September 20, 2010

Introduction
When people think of discrimination in the workplace, most people would think of the issues outlined by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  Another common area used to discriminate, is an applicant’s criminal history.  Look at almost any job application and there is a box asking if the applicant has ever been convicted of a felony.  Many companies do not have a written policy which addresses applicants who have a criminal background, while other companies put it simply –no felons.  This paper will review various statistics regarding the United States incarceration rate, legal proceedings that involve multiple companies and their policies surrounding employment of ex-offenders.  This paper will also address how ex-offenders are commonly treated when trying to find employment, after they have met what is recognized as restitution to the community, and how it affects them.

Legal Versus Illegal Discrimination of Felon Employment
In the last 30 years, the number of incarcerated people has increased over 500 percent, leaving the United States with the highest incarceration rate worldwide (Mauer, 2001 as cited by Pager, 2002).  The growing number of people being processed through the criminal justice system raises important questions surrounding the consequences of incarceration and the future employment outcomes for job seekers.  Research preformed by Pager, (2002), discusses a formal test used to assess the different degrees to which a criminal record may affect a person’s employment.  “Recent trends in crime policy have led to the imposition of harsher sentences for a wider range of offenses, thus casting an ever widening net of penal intervention” (Pager, 2002).  For example, in the past judges were able to consider a range of facts related to the individual and the crime committed, yet the adoption of mandatory sentencing laws removed that discretion.  While ‘tough on crime’ policies may be getting criminals off the streets, little thought has been made for when they are released.  Incarceration is associated with limited future employment opportunities (Freeman 1987; Western 2002, as cited by Pager 2002). 

Employer and Ex-Offender Rights
Many scholars and advocates of employment discrimination law debate the success of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and how it is hampered by the ‘Doctrine of at Will Employment’.  Employers who use the ‘at will’ employment policy have a broad discretion to terminate employees for any reason or for no reason at all which is at direct odds with Title VII goal’s of addressing equal employment opportunity (Suk, 2007).  Keep in mind, currently under EEOC (n.d.) guidelines:

“Pre-employment information requests which disclose or tend to disclose an applicant’s race are personal background checks, such as criminal history checks. Title VII does not categorically prohibit employers’ use of criminal records as a basis for making employment decisions. Using criminal records as an employment screen may be lawful, legitimate, and even mandated in certain circumstances. However, employers that use criminal records to screen for employment must comply with Title VII’s nondiscrimination requirements.”

One thing that employers try to take into account is their own rights in regards to their property, as well as their employee and customer rights.  Property rights are commonly seen as fundamental human rights and the foundations for a free and democratic society (Greve, 1993; Hyde, 1998 as cited by Lam and Harcourt 2003).  Some have argued that individuals should have perfect freedom to use their possessions as they wish, as long as this property use harms no one else- including using their property to hire laborers.  Employers argue that they should have the right not to hire ex-offenders that have been found guilty of damaging property or persons.  There are numerous statistics stating that high percentages of violent offenders will, within five years be re-convicted of another crime and incarcerated (Lam & Harcourt, 2003).  Under these circumstances it is understandable when employers are reluctant to hire ex-offenders.  Although property rights are well recognized by many nations' constitutions, declarations, and laws, they are not generally regarded as absolute rights.  These rights are relative, and can be circumscribed by law when necessary.

If convicted of minor charges, many people retain their freedom and rights, while continuing to live and work in the community.  Those incarcerated lose their freedom, at least temporarily, and are more heavily watched to protect the rights, and safety of law-abiding citizens.  Once a sentence has been served, offenders are released back into the community where they are expected to resume a normal life (Lam &Harcourt, 2003).  Yet many ex-offenders endure additional 'punishments' imposed by other groups in society in the form of life-long stereotypes or discrimination.  “Decisions to use [criminal background] information to exclude ex-offenders from being hired are an unjustified extension of the legal punishment” (Lam &Harcourt, 2003).

For a law-abiding citizen, a background and credit check usually does not cause any worry, but for an ex-convict it can be seen as an unnecessary invasion of privacy.  “If ex-offenders are not given a second chance, to legitimate employment, how can they be expected to lead a 'normal' life without relying on social welfare or resorting to illegal activities?” (Hubbell, 2001, p. DI as cited by Lam &Harcourt, 2003).

How Employers Decide if They Should Hire Felons.
Though claiming hiring practices are driven by the requirements of clients, many outsourcing firms like Accenture are facing discrimination lawsuits involving background checks (Hansen, 2010a).  At least one class-action lawsuit has been filed using a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.  A screening company in New York paid a $200,000 fine after an investigation found it aided employers in automatically disqualifying thousands of applicants and assisted one employer in withdrawing offers of employment to more than 100 applicants (Hansen, 2010a).  A lawsuit filed in April 2010, challenges the practice of running job applicants' names through the FBI criminal records database, which is well known to be inaccurate, incomplete, and disproportionately excludes ex-offender applicants.

Companies who frequently cite statistics on workplace violence often fail to realize the majority of incidents are not committed by employees at all, but those unconnected to the workplace at all.  There is no evidence that proves employees with a criminal background are likely to commit more acts of workplace violence (Hansen, 2010b).  There is no strong evidence that having a criminal background directly threatens others' safety or property.  In the U.S., over 13 million arrests were made in 2001 (excluding traffic violations); with drug abuse being the most common offence (U.S. Department of Justice, 2002, pp. 232-233 as cited by Lam & Harcourt, 2003).

What is Being Done to Help Fix The Issue
In the next 12 to 18 months, the EEOC will begin requiring businesses to provide proof that it is a ‘business necessity’ to continue to use background checks to maintain work place safety.  Multiple screening agencies have no evidence that the “no convictions” policy helps reduce workplace crime (Hansen, 2010b).  Employers and applicants will benefit from the new EEOC guidelines which bring clarity to what is now a legal mud hole of untested assumptions and possible discrimination.

Our cities are the launching point for record numbers of people released from prison and trying to seek gainful employment.  Private, non-profit, and government sectors, have compelling examples of leaders trying to forge reforms that address this reentry challenge (Emsellem, 2010).  Research performed by Emsellem and the National Employment Law Project, (NELP) (2010), focuses on promising policies that promote hiring of individuals with criminal histories.  NELP and Emsellem’s, (2010), research features 23 cities and counties that have ‘banned the box’ on applications.  NELP showcases other hiring strategies, ranging from tax credits to source hiring policies that open up employment for people with criminal records (Emsellem, 2010). 

Unemployment of Felons Effect The Individuals And Their Families
While many people claim to give others at least one chance to make up for past mistakes, ex-offenders do not usually get that chance.  Numerous educational and reform programs are available to offenders while incarcerated.  Once an offender has chosen to improve his or her employability, and get away from their previous criminal activity, they are sometimes faced with opposition.  When an individual completes their chosen program(s), they may receive a certificate of completion or a degree.  Both of these documents are added to an offender’s career portfolio, which assists in their job search upon release.

After being released from incarceration, many ex-offenders are released to what is known as a ‘half-way house’ where they are still under supervision and have rules to follow.  Ex-offenders now begin looking for work and a place to call home.  After completing their reformation or educational programs, most ex-offenders must now face the stereotype of having a criminal history.  Some try to leave being incarcerated in their past while others simply look at the ‘closed doors’ ahead of them and return to their previous criminal activities.

This author has seen ex-offenders be turned down for housing and job opportunities because of their past.  Even if the offence happened more than a decade ago and the ex-offender has had a solid work history before incarceration, as well as a steady rental history or own their own home.

Without a steady place to live and some way to support themselves many ex-offenders are unable to regain custody of their children, and must communicate with state protective agencies in order to even see them.  Some ex-offenders have lost children while incarcerated for long periods of time, or are seen as unfit parents due to their choices in the past.  Is this really giving offenders a chance at a ‘normal’ life?

Conclusion
Think about the facts “the United States has the highest incarceration rate worldwide” (Mauer, 2001, as cited by Pager, 2002) and more ex-offenders are being released every day.  Some ex-offenders have attained higher educational degrees, trying to better themselves while repaying what has been deemed a suitable punishment by a judge.  Employment policies should be reviewed and revised before more companies face multi-million dollar lawsuits for discrimination.

The use of criminal background checks is an invasion of privacy regardless of someone’s race, sex, religion, national origin, or disability.  The process of filtering through applications needs to be reviewed closely and those doing the hiring need to be aware that many ex-offenders truly are trying to live as ‘normal’ as a life as possible and their decision affects more than just the applicants.
 

References
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, (n.d.). Facts about race/color discrimination. Retrieved on September 9, 2010 from www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/publications/fs-race.cfm

Emsellem, M. (2010). Cities pave the way: Promising reentry policies. [Electronic version]. National Employment Law Project. Retrieved August 24, 2010, from www.nelp.org

Hansen, F. (2010A). Blaming clients in background check lawsuits. Workforce Management. 89(7), 8. Retrieved August 24, 2010, from Business Source Complete database.

Hansen, F. (2010B). Burden of proof. Workforce Management. 89(2), 27-28, 30, 32-33.  Retrieved September 1, 2010, from ABI/INFORM Global.

Lam, H., & Harcourt, M. (2003). The use of criminal record in employment decisions: The rights of ex-offenders, employers and the public. Journal of Business Ethics. 47(3), 237-252. Retrieved September 1, 2010, from Business Source Complete database.

Pager, D. (2002). Mark of a Criminal Record. American Journal of Sociology. 108(5), 937-975. Retrieved September 1, 2010, from WorldCat database.

Suk, J. (2007). Discrimination at will: Job security protections and equal employment opportunity in conflict. [Electronic version]. Stanford Law Review. Retrieved September 1, 2010, from www.stanfordlawreview.org

Offline Sho

Re: Discrimination of Felons in the Workplace
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2011, 12:32:33 AM »
It's an interesting read - though I have to say, I disagree with the conclusion that we're required to give more leeway to felons because there is a larger amount of them seeking jobs. Is it unfortunate for them that they're being punished for having committed a felony, even if they've been hard-working citizens? Yes. Is it illogical? No. If someone commits a crime, special cases with false accusations being the exception, they're going to be punished. That spills over into the workforce - a company should have the right to know who they're hiring. I, personally, find it ridiculous that companies are supposedly supposed to give up background checks - if you have a felony on your record, it would mean that that felony would, effectively, have no real effect on your outside life (voting excluded). How is that logical? A felon commits a felony - and pays for it.

Job applications (at least the ones that I've taken, so take this with a grain of salt) only ask if you are a 'felon', not if you've committed a misdemeanor. A felony and a misdemeanor charge are very different things - and a company would rightfully look twice at hiring someone who had committed a violent crime or theft. They have to protect their employees and their property.

Additionally, I found it particularly interesting that the paper stated that the majority of felons will commit another crime within five years of being released from prison - and yet, supposedly, having committed a felony has no real effect on whether or not they commit crimes in the workplace. Are we to assume, then, that they commit crimes off of public property and thus it should have no effect on their standing in the workplace? I think not. If someone does drugs at home, but it isn't effecting their work, that doesn't make it any more legal and it certainly is grounds for termination.

Frankly, it taints a company's reputation to be hiring people who have committed felonies - and a company's reputation is one of the most important things it has. Any company worth its salt will look at a potential employee and judge their fit within the company's corporate culture - and they're not going to hire someone that was irresponsible enough to get a felony on their record. A company looks at grades in school, for instance, as a mark of work ability. If a person has bad grades, it effects their employment opportunities. The same is true for criminal records - if someone was irresponsible enough to commit a felony and be caught and convicted, that's something a company is going to take into account. Do I think that it should automatically rule a candidate out? Not at all. If someone can prove that they've worked hard, even at small-time jobs, and they've committed themselves to giving back to the community, then they can be employed by a reputable company. But if a company has a choice to choose between two applicants who are otherwise equal, and one has a felony record - well, if I was a company executive, it wouldn't take much thought. I would hire the applicant that I felt had worked hard to keep their record clean.

Of course, it's a vicious circle - if a felon is umemployed, they could lose hope and turn to crime again. Why, though, is it a company's responsibility to give people a second chance? People give people second chances - corporations are in no way required to.

That's my take, at least. I'm sure others will have very different opinions.

Online Oniya

  • StoreHouse of Useless Trivia
  • Oracle
  • Carnite
  • *
  • Join Date: Sep 2008
  • Location: Just bouncing through. Hi! City of Roses, Pennsylvania
  • Gender: Female
  • One bad Motokifuka. Also cute and FLUFFY!
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 3
Re: Discrimination of Felons in the Workplace
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2011, 01:02:09 AM »
I think the point of the paper is that in order for someone to be rehabilitated, they have to become a functioning member of society.  In order to become a functioning member of society, they have to have a legal form of income.  With clean records as a condition of moderately decent employment, they have no way of getting that legal source of income (as Jean Valjean said, 'that handful of tin wouldn't buy my sweat,') and so they return to illegal sources of income, perpetuating the cycle.  It would be helpful if there was a method of getting convicted felons job assistance once they have served their time and paid their debt to society.  The alternative is to admit that prisons aren't for reform, but solely for punishment and 'warehousing'.

Offline RP7466

Re: Discrimination of Felons in the Workplace
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2011, 11:07:28 AM »
Seems a middle ground would work best. I agree that criminals need to be able to find work, but businesses should also know who they are hiring. Maybe allowing to weed out applicants who have committed specific crimes that are related to the job. For example FedEx asking if you have been convicted of stealing mail. Or a nursing home asking if you have been convicted of neglect. Maybe background checks should be run the same way, offenders listed by offense and the employer searches the offenses related to the position. That way criminals are excluded from the jobs that common sense would say they shouldn't be doing. But at the same time they can still find a descent job and become a contributing member of society, rather than a burdon.

Offline ADarkstarTopic starter

Re: Discrimination of Felons in the Workplace
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2011, 03:49:11 PM »
Sho: This paper was written to show how many felons are punished after they have paid for their original crime by the way society and businesses look at their past. After someone is released there are 'programs' out there to assist them in gaining employment, but many times it is at places where no one else wants to work because the pay doesn't enable them to live a productive life.

Oniya: You are correct, thank you for seeing what my intent was behind this paper.

RP7466: That is an interesting point regarding background checks. Looking at the way things are done currently in many places, this 'middle ground' is not something people want to find though.

Thank you all for your comments, they are appreciated.

~Adena
« Last Edit: April 22, 2011, 07:07:20 PM by ADarkstar »

Online Oniya

  • StoreHouse of Useless Trivia
  • Oracle
  • Carnite
  • *
  • Join Date: Sep 2008
  • Location: Just bouncing through. Hi! City of Roses, Pennsylvania
  • Gender: Female
  • One bad Motokifuka. Also cute and FLUFFY!
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 3
Re: Discrimination of Felons in the Workplace
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2011, 04:43:03 PM »
Oniya: You are correct, thank you for seeing what my intent was behind this paper.
~Adena

It probably helped in that I was watching the Les Miserables 25th anniversary concert at the time I wrote the post (if the quote didn't give that away  ;) ).

Offline ADarkstarTopic starter

Re: Discrimination of Felons in the Workplace
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2011, 05:34:44 PM »
Oniya,

I've not seen that movie/play unfortunately. Though I do like how you quoted it. *grins*

~Adena

Offline rick957

Re: Discrimination of Felons in the Workplace
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2011, 06:15:35 PM »
The issues raised here seem really important to me, for the simple reason that (like most folks) I hold to the general ethical principle that all people are basically equal and deserve equal treatment, regardless of past mistakes.

That's an awfully well-written paper, BTW.  :)  I learned something from it that surprised and pleased me, this part:

Quote
NELP and Emsellem’s, (2010), research features 23 cities and counties that have ‘banned the box’ on applications.

I didn't know that there were any public initiatives to "ban the box" on job applications, which is what this refers to, I assume.  I certainly like the idea.

I spent a few years at a bottom-level retail management job where I made hiring decisions frequently.  When you're hiring people, you're taking your best guess about whether or not you'll end up with a responsible, effective worker, but there's no guarantee you won't end up with a thief, for example.  There were many things to consider in order to find good employees, and there were certain glaring problems that caused some people's applications to get immediately ignored; to give an obvious example, some people forgot to sign their applications, which I was told was a basic requirement.

Checking the past convictions box moved the person's application automatically into my "ignore" pile, even though I considered that decision basically unethical, if not illegal. 

To this day I feel guilty about that approach of mine (the job was years ago).  I often wonder how many people with hiring responsibilities think about the issues raised in the paper above.  I wish I had thought about them more.

I strongly agree with your paper's conclusions and consider the issues extremely important, but I also think it's a horrible social conundrum with no easy answers, and very few people have the time or energy to give these issues a second thought -- I didn't, back when I had that job.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2011, 06:22:19 PM by rick957 »

Offline ADarkstarTopic starter

Re: Discrimination of Felons in the Workplace
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2011, 06:30:21 PM »
I hold to the general ethical principle that all people are basically equal and deserve equal treatment, regardless of past mistakes.
I wish more people felt this way.

Quote
That's an awfully well-written paper, BTW.  :)  I learned something from it that surprised and pleased me, this part:
Thank you. *smiles* I got an A on the paper, and was the only person the instructor had ever seen do one on this type of discrimination.
Quote
Checking the past convictions box moved the person's application automatically into my "ignore" pile, even though I considered that decision basically unethical, if not illegal. 
If you felt that it was unethical, why did you automatically disqualify them? (I'm not trying to start an argument, just get to the reason behind it.)

Quote
...it's a horrible social conundrum with no easy answers, and very few people have the time or energy to give these issues a second thought ...
It is a very big conundrum, and its not that people don't have the time to give it thought, in my opinion- they choose not to and assume the worst about people with 'shady pasts.'

Thank you for your insight into the paper.

~Adena

Offline rick957

Re: Discrimination of Felons in the Workplace
« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2011, 06:52:34 PM »
Quote
If you felt that it was unethical, why did you automatically disqualify them? (I'm not trying to start an argument, just get to the reason behind it.)

It's a good question to ask.  Short answer:  sometimes I'm an unethical asshole.  :)  Slightly less short answer:  Hiring was just one of my responsibilities, and I never had time to get all my work done.  I was looking for any way to quickly eliminate the less attractive applicants and end up with the best possible employees.  That box is shorthand for:  you're taking a larger-than-normal risk if you hire this person. 

Quote
... its not that people don't have the time to give it thought, in my opinion- they choose not to and assume the worst about people with 'shady pasts.'

I think you're right that people choose not to ponder these issues much, but I also think that one big reason for that is that most people have busy lives, and they only have so much time to ponder social or ethical conundrums, especially ones that aren't immediately affecting their day-to-day present.  As to whether or not people "assume the worst about people with 'shady pasts'" ... No disagreement there.  It's hard for people to always give everyone else a fair shake, but it's important for all of us to keep trying harder.  IMO.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2011, 06:55:49 PM by rick957 »

Offline Serephino

Re: Discrimination of Felons in the Workplace
« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2011, 08:41:28 PM »
I think this is one of those 'double-edged sword' topics.  No, it isn't fair for a person to be punished the rest of their lives for a mistake, especially if it wasn't something all that serious.  I can't think of any examples at the moment, but sometimes people are charged and convicted more harshly than they should have been.

I also agree that it's harder for someone to become a productive law-abiding citizen once they get out of prison if they can't find a job.  No one wants to be homeless and starving, so they will eventually resort to the very same thing that led them to be put in prison in the first place.  It's a never ending viscous cycle.

That being said, would you want someone convicted of theft in charge of your books?  Like, my mom works as an accountant for a restaurant.  She and the owner are the only ones with keys to the safe.  One probably wouldn't want to give a convicted felon that kind of job.  However, I don't see why they couldn't wash dishes or something.   


Offline ADarkstarTopic starter

Re: Discrimination of Felons in the Workplace
« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2011, 08:50:57 PM »
Serephino,

Your point goes back to something said by RP7466, which in effect was- "Don't hire the person for the position if their criminal history involves it."  And one which I can agree with, though I feel the need to point out that (from personal family experience) once someone has a criminal past involving something like theft, the person rarely seeks out a job that puts that temptation within reach if they truly have learned their lesson after paying for the crime in the first place. Although, there are those that do the opposite and seek out such positions to try and 'get one over' on the system and don't regret their criminal acts.

~Adena

Online TheGlyphstone

Re: Discrimination of Felons in the Workplace
« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2011, 08:55:37 PM »
That seems to be the sort of inherent prejudice that ADarkStar is talking about, in a way. It's logical that you wouldn't want a convicted thief with access to your safe, but would it depend on what kind of theft? A convicted embezzler, obviously not accountant material, but what if it was for burglary instead, or shoplifting? Crimes any of your employees could commit regardless of their position. Plus, the bit about them washing dishes...that's the other problem, the only jobs they can find are the scutwork no one else wants. Would you hire that convicted burglar as a chef, knowing he would have access to knives on a regular basis, despite no criminal record involving violence?

Offline Trieste

  • Faerie Queen; Her Imperial Lubemajesty; Willing Victim
  • Dame
  • Carnite
  • *
  • Join Date: Apr 2005
  • Location: In the middle of Happily Ever After with a dark Prince Charming.
  • Gender: Female
  • I am many things - dull is not one of them.
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 4
Re: Discrimination of Felons in the Workplace
« Reply #13 on: April 23, 2011, 09:01:03 AM »
I think this is one of those 'double-edged sword' topics.  No, it isn't fair for a person to be punished the rest of their lives for a mistake, especially if it wasn't something all that serious.  I can't think of any examples at the moment, but sometimes people are charged and convicted more harshly than they should have been.

Drug possession/sale is a felony depending on the amount, even if you're selling weed. Public urination puts you on the sex offender list. There are more examples. Mind, I think that if you don't like a law (such as weed being illegal to own/grow/smoke) then you should exercise your rights as a voter and change the law rather than break it. However, should someone who is selling weed get the same sort of penalties as someone selling, say, crack? One is highly addictive and has a reputation for being distinctly destructive. The other is culturally considered medicinal as well as recreational, and largely harmless.

With that said, should we really be visiting despair on ex-cons? They know that checking the little "are you a damn dirty felon" box will put them in some overworked hiring manager's 'ignore' pile, but if they don't check the box then they can lose their job (if they even get it in the first place) for lying.

I do think that employers should not be able to ask that question except in specific circumstances. If you're hiring for a janitor in the public library, why do you need to know that? It's a public library - it's not like all manner of people can't come into the building off the street anyway, and it's not as if the janitor has access to money or valuables most of the time (or, at least, our janitors don't). However, if you're hiring security for that same public library, then yes, it's fair to ask if someone has a felony conviction, but only within a certain time limit. If someone has not been in jail or been convicted of a crime within the last 10 years, they should be able to check 'no' on the entry questionnaire.

It's important not to forget the employer's rights in all of this. Yes, it sucks that felons find it harder to get a job but them's sorta the breaks. I don't think it should ruin someone's life, but I also think an employer has the right to know who they're hiring because it is a bigger risk.

I don't think it's any of an employer's business to require what the person was convicted for. If the person wants to volunteer it, fine, but the idea that an employer can ask what someone was convicted for and hire based on that is a little ludicrous to my mind. The whole thing smacks of a violation of the ex-con's privacy.

Offline Serephino

Re: Discrimination of Felons in the Workplace
« Reply #14 on: April 23, 2011, 09:25:19 AM »
That seems to be the sort of inherent prejudice that ADarkStar is talking about, in a way. It's logical that you wouldn't want a convicted thief with access to your safe, but would it depend on what kind of theft? A convicted embezzler, obviously not accountant material, but what if it was for burglary instead, or shoplifting? Crimes any of your employees could commit regardless of their position. Plus, the bit about them washing dishes...that's the other problem, the only jobs they can find are the scutwork no one else wants. Would you hire that convicted burglar as a chef, knowing he would have access to knives on a regular basis, despite no criminal record involving violence?

Would I hire a burglar to be a chef?  That would depend.  Does he have a history of stabbing people?  I mean, really, something that violent, would you really want to take a chance? 

I believe in second chances, but also in using caution and common sense.  Okay, if the felony was ten years ago, and their record has been squeaky clean since, chances are they're safe to hire.  If it's more recent, then no, you probably wouldn't want to give them a job that came with keys to your safe.  You don't know if they're going to re offend.  Some don't, some do. 

The restaurant actually did hire someone convicted of drug dealing as a dish washer.  Three months later he was arrested again while on the job.  He was not one of the people who wants to become a productive member of society.  It may suck that all they can get is scutwork, but they are the ones who chose to break the law, so they're going to have to prove themselves again.

Online TheGlyphstone

Re: Discrimination of Felons in the Workplace
« Reply #15 on: April 23, 2011, 09:45:59 AM »
That's why I specifically called out the lack of a record involving violence or stabbing people. Just a B+E specialist, say.

And for 'proving themselves' - that's precisely the issue. Why should a man who spent ten years in prison be forced to 'prove himself' before he can get anything above a crap job, and how is he supposed to do so if all he can get are the crap jobs? The unrepetant recividist drug dealer and the reformed, penitent former drug dealer look the same on paper, and maybe in person - by deciding they are guilty until proven innocent, not only are you going against constitutional rights, you're making the genuinely repetant man pay for the unrepetant one's crimes by restricting them both to the same poverty-level employments.

Offline Zakharra

Re: Discrimination of Felons in the Workplace
« Reply #16 on: April 23, 2011, 11:06:22 AM »
That's why I specifically called out the lack of a record involving violence or stabbing people. Just a B+E specialist, say.

And for 'proving themselves' - that's precisely the issue. Why should a man who spent ten years in prison be forced to 'prove himself' before he can get anything above a crap job, and how is he supposed to do so if all he can get are the crap jobs? The unrepetant recividist drug dealer and the reformed, penitent former drug dealer look the same on paper, and maybe in person - by deciding they are guilty until proven innocent, not only are you going against constitutional rights, you're making the genuinely repetant man pay for the unrepetant one's crimes by restricting them both to the same poverty-level employments.

 Not neccessarily. The employer has a good reason to question if that  previously convicted person they might hire would do it again. Like it or not, it is a greater risk hiring that person than someone that doesn't have a criminal record. 

 I believe it is only unconstitutional to assume guilt for a trial. They've already proven their guilt when they were tried and convicted the first time. For an employer to not hire them based on that isn't unreasonable.  I can understand why  they're tossed in the ignore pile. Although I do believe that the length since their last arrest, the type of crime and how they've acted since they got out of jail should be a factor.

Online TheGlyphstone

Re: Discrimination of Felons in the Workplace
« Reply #17 on: April 23, 2011, 11:14:05 AM »
Not neccessarily. The employer has a good reason to question if that  previously convicted person they might hire would do it again. Like it or not, it is a greater risk hiring that person than someone that doesn't have a criminal record. 

 I believe it is only unconstitutional to assume guilt for a trial. They've already proven their guilt when they were tried and convicted the first time. For an employer to not hire them based on that isn't unreasonable.  I can understand why  they're tossed in the ignore pile. Although I do believe that the length since their last arrest, the type of crime and how they've acted since they got out of jail should be a factor.

If the crime is relevant, sure. As it stands, though, petty shoplifting and capital murder are equally weighed when it comes to employment. Plus, if they've proven their guilt by being convicted once, that's almost worse, since you're not even allowing for the possibility that they won't commit another crime - convicting them again for a crime they not only haven't committed yet, but may not have ever even considered committing.

Ultimately, I think it's a vicious circle. Ex-cons are discriminated against because people assume they will re-offend, leading them to be stuck in dead-end jobs and very likely to re-offend...which society then uses as evidence to continue the trend of not hiring them.

Offline Jude

Re: Discrimination of Felons in the Workplace
« Reply #18 on: April 23, 2011, 11:44:51 AM »
The incarceration rate is so high in the United States because we have long prison sentences, it includes all people who are under the thumb of the Legal System (parole counts for this -- a little less than a third of people who are "incarcerated" are actually in prison), and our drug laws are extremely counterproductive.  Last I read (and this could be inaccurate) about half of people in prison at the state level are there for non-violent offenses, compared to around 90% at the federal level who are there for non-violent offenses.  If it was a question of workplace safety we could simply codify things differently (so that non-violent offenders don't have to disclose their criminal background), but financial protection against unscrupulous employees is a different matter.

Being an ex-con, when the justice system works as it's supposed to, means you've committed a crime and spend time in jail; with our current system both of those things are a strike against you when it comes to predicting your future behavior.  Our prison systems are more about punishment and less about rehabilitation, so a lot of people come out more dangerous than when they went in.  And there seems to be very little political will to reform that to boot.

As such I find it difficult to discuss one aspect of how we deal with Felons (or ex-convicts) on its own.  Reform is going to require sweeping change, right now the way businesses treat convicts makes total sense even if it does contribute to the problem.  I think we need to change our drug policy and reevaluate the way our society "feels" about punishment versus rehabilitation as goals of imprisonment.

Online Oniya

  • StoreHouse of Useless Trivia
  • Oracle
  • Carnite
  • *
  • Join Date: Sep 2008
  • Location: Just bouncing through. Hi! City of Roses, Pennsylvania
  • Gender: Female
  • One bad Motokifuka. Also cute and FLUFFY!
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 3
Re: Discrimination of Felons in the Workplace
« Reply #19 on: April 23, 2011, 12:52:54 PM »
Apparently, the economic situation is prompting some government types to look into reform.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/crime/news/article.cfm?c_id=30&objectid=10721089

(Although why I have to find this stuff out through a New Zealand news source is beyond explanation.)

Offline ADarkstarTopic starter

Re: Discrimination of Felons in the Workplace
« Reply #20 on: April 23, 2011, 03:47:34 PM »
Many of you have some very valid points. This paper hasn't been 'published' any where else because I plan on expanding it for some of my other courses since I am a business major. Discrimination is a huge topic and reforms to correct discrimination are something that I feel strongly about. As an FYI, this paper is the final version I turned in to one of my instructors after cutting it down from 14 pages to 6 (not counting the reference page) in order to meet the max requirement.

Oniya: Thank you for that link, though it is in New Zealand it still has some very valid facts in it.

Everyone else: Any objections if I quote you when I continue work on this paper?

~Adena

Online Oniya

  • StoreHouse of Useless Trivia
  • Oracle
  • Carnite
  • *
  • Join Date: Sep 2008
  • Location: Just bouncing through. Hi! City of Roses, Pennsylvania
  • Gender: Female
  • One bad Motokifuka. Also cute and FLUFFY!
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 3
Re: Discrimination of Felons in the Workplace
« Reply #21 on: April 23, 2011, 04:13:01 PM »
Oniya: Thank you for that link, though it is in New Zealand it still has some very valid facts in it.

Everyone else: Any objections if I quote you when I continue work on this paper?

~Adena

My disbelief was more at the fact that a New Zealand news-site has more info about an American issue than the American news-sites.  I haven't seen any mention of prison reform on my local news sources. 

Offline ADarkstarTopic starter

Re: Discrimination of Felons in the Workplace
« Reply #22 on: April 23, 2011, 04:17:58 PM »
The only prison related news I've seen in my local news has been prison closure, which isn't always a good thing. And I'm glad I'm not relating the discussion going on behind me over this *chuckles* cause it opens a whole new can of worms... adding religion into this discussion and how the churches are sticking their fingers into the political pots. *shakes her head a little*

Offline Zakharra

Re: Discrimination of Felons in the Workplace
« Reply #23 on: April 23, 2011, 05:39:03 PM »


Everyone else: Any objections if I quote you when I continue work on this paper?

~Adena

 Go ahead.  ;D

Offline ADarkstarTopic starter

Re: Discrimination of Felons in the Workplace
« Reply #24 on: April 23, 2011, 05:48:33 PM »
Thank you Zakharra. *grins* and off topic- Nice Avi.