Can my application for employment be denied based solely on the fact that I have a felony conviction from 5.5 years ago?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can my application for employment be denied based solely on the fact that I have a felony conviction from 5.5 years ago?

Every time I go to a job interview and they ask if I have any felonies, I say yes and then they act like it’s no big deal. However, then I come to find out later that my employment was denied because of it. I’ve heard this is a form of

discrimination. Is this true?

Asked on October 3, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Alabama


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, legally, it is not a form of discrimination. Employers are allowed to discriminate unless the thing they are discriminating on is specifically prohibited by law: that's why you can't discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, age 40 or over, sex, or disability, because the law prohibits those specific forms of discrimination. But any type of "discrimination" not prohibited by law is legal: for example, an employer can refuse to hire you because he doesn't like your politics, your clothing or ink or piercings, your taste in music or television shows, the state you grew up in, whether or not you own guns, or whether or not you like football; there is no protection for any of those things. And unfortunately, there is no protection for having a criminal record, even an old one; an employer may legally refuse to hire you on this basis.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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