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Tuesday, 13 April 2010 00:00

Applicants and Conviction Records

Yes, you can ask an applicant for employment if he or she has ever been convicted of a crime.  However, once you determine that the applicant has a criminal record, you cannot simply refuse to hire for that reason.  The Wisconsin Fair Employment Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of a conviction record. 

An employer must show that there is a substantial relationship between the circumstances of the conviction and the job duties applied for.  Some cases are easier to call: a child molester would not have to be hired by a daycare center; an embezzler would not have to be hired by a bank.  Other cases may be more difficult to interpret. 

Of course, an employer does not discriminate on the basis of a conviction record if the employment decision is based solely on objective factors, such as the applicant failing to meet the minimum qualifications for the job or failing to possess the desired skills and experience, when compared with other applicants.

Once you make the determination that your applicant or employee has a criminal conviction or presents a risk to employees in the workplace, you may want to contact legal counsel before taking any action regarding employment.

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