Finding jobs can be a daunting task for an ex-convict. That is because many rights would have been stripped off and not all employers guarantee they would overlook one’s records. However, there are still many companies that will hire ex-convicts and overlook their past criminal records.
This is all thanks to current civil and labor laws, and one such company is Pizza Hut, which would be the focus of this article.
Quick Facts on Pizza Hut
- Started in Wichita Kansas, in the year 1958
- Currently owned by Yum! Brand Inc., alongside Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken, etc.
- At present, more than 16,000 independently owned and operated Pizza Hut restaurants
- One of the best-known pizza companies that make and delivers pizza
- Part of the Paradigm for Parity to provide equal opportunity and status for men and women
The Background Check
It may seem like common sense for a job seeker with a criminal history to not tell their full details to avoid facing discrimination. However, hiding such details would already be grounds for dismissal. This is because the background check will always show everything anyway, so it is always better to be upfront from the beginning. What a job seeker can expect to be revealed by a background check can be seen in the link here.
So if a job seeker does have criminal convictions shown by the background check or not, they must be discussed in depth with the hiring manager since it is ultimately their call whether one gets hired or not. The hiring manager also decides which jobs the job seeker can have based on the convictions on a case by case basis.
The Law Behind The Background Check
It is important to know that the rights of an ex-convict for fair employment are covered by title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
The Fair Chance Act enforced in 14 states including Maryland and California does prevent private employers from asking about criminal records before offering any jobs, but it does not prevent them from running a background check after one gets hired.
Employers should always ask for permission to have a background check done on any potential hire, and while a job seeker can refuse the check, it will look suspicious since according to the Civil Rights Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) [§ 613, 15 U.S.C. § 1681k, on page 70], employers have the right to make background checks on employees before and after they were hired, and it is common practice to regularly make these checks in case any details are missed the first time and in subsequent times.
When the employer makes a background check, they always need permission from the employee. Should the background checks reveal something negative, employers must send the employee a copy of the background check report. They also need to give a reasonable time (usually five days) for the employee to either explain or dispute the report, along with a “notice of rights”.
Most employers hire outside companies to make their background checks, so this notice lets the employee contact that company to correct any mistakes like a criminal record that has offenses that have been expunged, pardoned, erased or downgraded, but not show up yet. A guide on pardons can be seen in the link here. How a felony can fall off a criminal record can be viewed in the link here.
Pizza Hut practices at-will employment along with most businesses in the United States, as stated in their employee handbook in effect since 2011. At-will employment under US Labor law Code section 2922 states that employers can fire an employee for any reason and without warning as long as the reason is not illegal (for example violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964). This law assumes the employee also has the same right to leave a job for any reason and without warning.
So while Pizza Hut hire ex-convicts, they have the right to turn away job seekers or dismiss employees convicted of:
- Illicit drugs (use, possession or distribution of)
- Breach of trust (fraud, embezzlement, etc.)
- Disturbance of the peace
- Other violent crimes
So if an employee does have convictions, they must be discussed with the hiring and human resources manager. This is because ultimately they best know what convictions the company policies are willing to overlook
Getting Around At-will Employment
Several US states have made laws to go around at-will employment. One such law is the Fair Chance Act mentioned earlier. In fact, the Fair Chance Act prevents private employers from dismissing an employee because of what a background check reveals. However, it is the reader’s responsibility to check whether those laws apply to them or not.
Also, the job seeker or employee should check whether they are eligible to join a trade union in their area. This is important because such organizations can help protect their members from an unfair workplace. An example will be making employers have a good reason for firing an employee, also called having “just cause”. One can see a page regarding union jobs in the link here.
All in all, it is important to go over the company’s contract and handbook carefully. This is because they will show whether they follow at-will employment or a modified version of it.
A job seeker should always research the company’s policies to see if their policies work for them. Also, a job seeker should understand their rights to know how they can help them. If an employee or job seeker faces unfair discrimination because of a background check, they can contact the EEOC on their website here, or by calling 800-669-4000 (voice) or 800-669-6820 (text).
If any of the rights regarding background checks are violated, such as having a background check done without the employee’s permission, or if they weren’t given a reasonable amount of time to address or dispute a background check with negative results, please contact the FTC at their website here, or by calling 877-FTC-HELP (1-977-382-4357) (voice) or 866-653-4261 (text). For any further legal advice, the reader can also consult an attorney specializing in labor law.
The job seeker should always put their best foot forward when being interviewed for a job. Keep explanations honest and simple, have a positive attitude, and always make first impressions count.
Once employed, always make sure the rules are followed. Also make sure to have a clean and outstanding record so there will be no reason for dismissals.
The road to meaningful employment can be a long and exhausting path. But the rewards as a contributing and law-abiding citizen will always be worth it
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