Is it legal to hire someone knowing their record and then terminate them because of that record?

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Is it legal to hire someone knowing their record and then terminate them because of that record?

I ask this on behalf of my uncle. He recently interviewed for a job in facilities at a nursing home type place. He does have a past criminal charge. When he was in his early twenties (this was over 20 years ago) he was charged with possesion of marijuana. He has always been upfront to employers about it and has been hired in the past. This job was no different, they hired him despite the record. He worked 2 months and recently was fired because human resources did their own background check.

Asked on November 16, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Yes, this is unfortunately legal. As a general matter, unless someone has an actual employment contract, he or she is an employee at will. As the term implies, an employee at will may be fired at any time, for any reason whatsoever--or even on reason at all. So  in this case, if some additional detail about his record came up, or someone in the company who hadn't known or thought about it previously became aware of it, or a new manager came in who feels that your uncle's record makes him a threat or risk in some way, etc., he could be terminated.


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