Can an employer have a policy of not considering applicants because of petty misdemeanors on her record?

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Can an employer have a policy of not considering applicants because of petty misdemeanors on her record?

Loudoun County Public Schools asked on their application ‘Have you ever
been convicted as guilty or not innocent of a violation of law other than a
minor traffic violation?’ and I listed two petty misdemeanors I was charged
with, one from 2014 and one from 2016. When my application was rejected
and I followed up for more information, they said it was because of the petty
misdemeanors and it falls within their policy of not considering applicants
who have misdemeanors on their record within the past five years.

Asked on January 11, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Yes, this is legal. Employers have wide latitude to decide who to hire--or not to hire--and why, except to the extent specifically prohibited by law (such as the laws against racial discrimination). However, there is no law preventing employers from denying employment due to petty misdemeanors (or even disorderly persons offenses); an employer is free to refuse to hire you for this reason.


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