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Knowing your rights can help you land a job after incarceration

Getting a job is one of the most important things to do to get back on your feet after being incarcerated, but it can be a challenging step for many people. A criminal record decreases a person’s chances of receiving a job offer or being called back by about 50 percent, according to a Harvard study. However, Oregon’s Ban-the-Box statute aims to make the hiring process a fairer one for job applicants statewide.

What does the Ban-the-Box statute do?

When applying for jobs, it is important to make sure you know your rights. Oregon’s Ban-the-Box statute makes it illegal for a potential employer to exclude you from an initial interview solely because of your criminal history. This means that the job application cannot ask about your criminal history, and you should not be asked about your criminal history at any point before the initial interview.

In Portland the law is even more stringent, making it illegal for potential employers not to consider you for the position only because of your criminal history. In Portland, your criminal history can only be considered after you receive a conditional employment offer. If you do get turned down for a job because of a past conviction, the potential employer had to first determine that your specific offence is related to the job you applied for.

There are some positions, such as government positions, that these laws do not apply to. Also, these laws do not prohibit employers from running background checks.

Background checks

Employers always need to get your permission before running a background check on you. If you do not give permission for the background check, you will often be no longer considered for the job.

A background check will likely reveal any criminal history. Consider looking up public records about yourself before applying for jobs, so you can be sure the records are accurate. This will also help you be prepared to explain why your record won’t affect your ability to do your job.

If you are not hired because of your criminal history, the potential employer must provide you with the name, address and phone number of the company that supplied the record and let you know that the company that supplied the information did not make the hiring decision. You should also be informed that you have the right to dispute the accuracy of the report and to get a free copy of the report within 60 days. If you are not hired because of your criminal history, it is good to review the record to make sure everything is accurate.

Consider expunging your records

Depending on your circumstances, having your record expunged may be a helpful option for you. Having your record expunged means that your conviction is wiped clean and you can legally say that you have never been convicted.

Most violations, misdemeanors, Class C felonies and felonies that can be treated as misdemeanors have the possibility of being expunged. There is usually a waiting period before you can apply for expungement. This ranges from one to 10 years, according to the Oregon State Bar.

It can be difficult to find a job when you have a criminal record. However, it is important to know your rights and options because they can help you make good job hunting decisions and improve your odds of getting hired.

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