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

UPDATED: Dec 2, 2011

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 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.

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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