What are my rights if I have been turned down for positions that I am more than qualified for due to my criminal record?

UPDATED: Sep 29, 2022

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What are my rights if I have been turned down for positions that I am more than qualified for due to my criminal record?

The only charge I have is a drug charge. The conviction took place 7 years ago. I did not have to serve any time in jail or on probation for this conviction. Why would these companies not hire me? How can I get this removed to benefit my life going forward? I am already a black male, so it’s hard enough dealing with that. I feel I am being unfairly judged and denied employment. I have no problem passing any drug test. Can anyone lead me in the right direction to get this isolated charge removed from my record?

Asked on August 28, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, South Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

It is legal for an employer to not hire someone--or, if they have been hired, not promote them--due to a drug or other conviction there is, unfortunately, no legal anti-discrimination protection for those convicted of crimes, and employers may therefore legally discriminate against them. 
However, it may be possible to "expunge"--or eliminate--your criminal record your state allows expungment of certain minor offenses, when there was no jail time. You should speak with an attorney right away about your situation and whether you are eligible for expungement if so, you should have the lawyer begin the process immediately. A criminal defense attorney would likely know the eligibility criteria and procedure.

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