If you have a criminal record and live in Texas, it may feel like the state is out to get you. With antiquated laws that lean toward discrimination, Texas makes life difficult for those who are trying to make a clean start. However, Texas has actually passed some laws to help prevent discrimination against convicts.
For example, employers hiring someone who will make less than $75,000 per year are not allowed to have criminal history that is older than seven years included in their report on the prospective employee. Only jobs paying more than $75,000 per year and those that are sensitive in nature allow for a report to be all-inclusive when it comes to criminal history.
This is a good thing for those who have worked hard to make a clean start but are worried about being discriminated against for something that happened years ago.
Unfortunately, there are exceptions to this rule. Government agencies can look back to a person’s eighteenth birthday, and some companies need to look at the past ten and twenty years of history. Anyone who is unsure if the rules are being followed by a prospective employer may want to contact an attorney.
You Have Rights
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), protections are in place to help prevent those convicted of a crime from discrimination. If an employer wants to run a criminal background check, he or she may do so but must follow certain guidelines:
Employers Need Permission
Employers are required to have the applicant sign a written consent form before pulling their credit or background report.
They Must Provide Notice
If employers plan to use the information within the report to screen potential candidates, they must inform everyone of this in writing. They must also give applicants a copy of their report.
Employers who do not hire someone based on the information contained in their report must provide notice that details why. In other words, they need to explain why they chose not to hire you.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 Applies, Sort of…
According to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers cannot discriminate against convicts when it comes to employment. The problem is that this law still allows for criminal checks to be conducted, and what is deemed “discrimination” is less than clear.
Some employers may hide their discrimination by saying that other applicants are more qualified while never actually hiring convicts. This ambiguity often leads to lawsuits.
The Fair Housing Act Also Offers Protection
Those with criminal records in Texas and throughout the country have become accustomed to being discriminated against when it comes to housing. Having a criminal record can mean an automatic no with some landlords.
Now, you have the option to file a lawsuit against a landlord based on the Fair Housing Act. This at least provides options to Texans with a criminal history.
Expungement Is Best
Ultimately, the best way to prevent discrimination based on your criminal record is to have your charges or convictions expunged, when possible. Attorneys routinely help people to clean up their criminal records to ensure that the past doesn’t follow them around for the rest of their lives.
Expungement isn’t guaranteed, and it will not happen automatically, so it is important to call an attorney to discuss your legal options.