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  • Isaac Safier

Do arrests affect hiring?

If you were arrested and it did not result in a conviction, meaning that the case was dropped before you ever went to court, you completed a diversion program or even if you went to court and eventually won your case, you still have an arrest record.

In California, having an arrest record shouldn’t affect your employment prospects, in theory..

California law generally prohibits asking a job applicants about an arrest that did not lead to a conviction or about participation in a diversion program. (Labor Code Section 432.7).

In addition, The Fair Chance Act, which went into effect on January 1, 2018, has prohibitions on asking about a conviction history before making a job offer (“Ban the Box” law).

Even so, many companies, including big gig-economy companies, just ignore the law and reject applicants for unlawful reasons. The Department of Fair Employment and Housing has received more than 300 complaints alleging violations of the law.

Why are they flagrantly violating the law? One theory is that it is cheaper to ignore these labor laws than deal with the lawsuits and fall-out caused by some misdeed by an employee who had a previous arrest record.

When you apply for a job and get a copy of your CalDoj criminal record back showing an arrest as the only reason for denial, just remember that not all is lost!

Here are some things you can do:

  • Get a certificate of “detention only” from the police station that arrested you (if you were never charged). A detention is one step below and arrest but still raises some eyebrows.

  • SEAL YOUR RECORD! You can file a C.A.R.E. Act petition under a new law that went into effect in early 2018 that allows you to seal your record for most purposes.

Nearly two years after the C.A.R.E. Act was passed, only a small fraction of eligible people have taken action to seal their record. Given that the process takes several months (time to get a court date, time for the court to send the updated record to the DOJ, etc.) people shouldn’t wait until they are between jobs to seal their records.


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