Does firing someone due to a criminal background constitute employment discrimination?

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Does firing someone due to a criminal background constitute employment discrimination?

I was employed at a job for one week and then my employer called me to say that I was no longer employed because I have a criminal back ground. I said that I had felt singled out because of my past. They said that the reason is to provide a safe work environment. I feel discriminated against. Is there anything that I can do to change these policies? They say they are EOE but yet they very opposite from that.

Asked on December 2, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Arizona

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, most forms of discrimination are legal; only those that are specifically prohibited (such as discrimination against someone on the basis of race, sex, age over 40, religion, or disability) are illegal.

In some circumstances, it can be illegal to fire someone due to a criminal background; that is typically where the conviciton is an old one and/or has nothing to do with the job. (E.g. a bookkeeper could be fired for having been convicted of embezzlement; a camp counsel for a child abuse or sexual abuse conviction; etc.) Since it depends on the facts and is not nearly as clear cut or easy to make a claim for as sex, race, etc. discrimination, you are advised to speak with an employment attorney, who can evaluate the circumstances in detail and see if you do have a claim for discrimination. Good luck.


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