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Barriers to Employment


Barriers to Employment

Barriers to Employment

If you have a criminal record, you may face obstacles when you are applying for a job.  Some employers may rely on records that they should not consider because they are inaccurate or unrelated to the job qualifications. Many times, this results in a person being denied employment who is otherwise qualified.

In 2018, Pennsylvania enacted the Clean Slate Act.  This act created an automatic process for sealing thousands of records and expanded the range of offenses that could be sealed. NPLS helps remove barriers to employment by ensuring that records are sealed when they should be and by getting eligible criminal and juvenile records expunged. Sometimes a charge or conviction cannot be expunged or sealed.  In these cases, a Pardon may be necessary.  In addition to help from NPLS, there are various other pro bono projects who can help remove these barriers.

Another barrier to employment that affects many job seekers is the loss of driving privileges.  If you have lost your driver's license and need it so that you can perform your job duties, we may be able to provide advice on the steps needed to restore driving privileges.

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  • I was not hired because of my criminal record. Is this legal?

    An employer can only consider felony or misdemeanor convictions that are directly related to the job duties. For example, an employer could consider a Driving Under the Influence conviction when hiring for a delivery position, but might not when hiring for a sales associate. Even if the conviction may be considered, employers should look at how long ago the conviction took place and the seriousness of the offense.  Employers may not deny employment because of charges that were dismissed or where you were found not guilty.

    See our Barriers to Employment handbook for more information.

  • When I was 22 years old I was convicted of a felony. I am now 32, and cannot find a job because of the conviction. Can I get it expunged?

    No.  You may be eligible for a pardon which can eventually lead to an expungement. The pardon process may take several years, but non-violent Marijuana related convictions may be eligible for a faster process.

    The pardon application requires important documents such as a Pennsylvania State Police Criminal History, certified driving record, and parts of the court file. Other important items include your written statement detailing the facts of the crime.  You should be prepared to take full responsibility for committing the offense.  You should also state, in detail, how the conviction has affected you, and why you need to have it removed from your record.  Your application will eventually go through a “merit review” process, and if approved, you will be invited to Harrisburg to present to the Board of Pardons.  

    At this time, Pennsylvania Law only allows expungements of adult convictions under the following circumstances:  

    • Summary convictions that are more than five years old
      • If there are not any new prosecutions or arrests within that timeframe,
    • Convictions for underage drinking/purchase of alcohol,
    • Convictions for individuals who are over 70
      • If they have have not been arrested or prosecuted for ten years following the release from confinement or probation, 
    • Convictions for an individual who has been dead for three years.  

    Non conviction data such as dismissals, acquittals, or diversionary programs such as ARD are eligible for expungement.

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