Would you hire a convicted felon?

This week’s blog is aimed at employers and security consultants who may be hired to advise on best hiring practices.

I have heard many employers and managers making statements to the effect that that they would never hire a convicted felon. Would you? I would caution you to carefully look at all the facts before answering.

A felon may have been convicted for numerous drunken driving offenses. After the third conviction, they are often adjudicated to be an “habitual offender”, which is a felony. If you were looking to hire a driver for your commercial fleet, you would be within your rights to deny this person a job.

If, on the other hand, the opening was for a sales person, making phone calls from a cubicle all day, then a person with a felony conviction for drunken driving could actually sue you if you turned them down based on the fact that they were a felon.

There’s a gym in the D.C. area where a convicted felon is an employee. He was not some drunk who kept driving impaired until he became a habitual offender. This felon is a registered sex offender. He works in a gym where there are thousands of women. He teaches classes that are probably made up of 90% – 95% females. Worse still, he has been known to regularly make sexual comments aimed at clients and co-workers.

Word recently leaked when someone who attends the gym looked up the registered sex offenders in her neighborhood and saw the gym employee. A senior employee was approached and asked what they were going to do about it. Their reply? They felt that there was nothing they could do since he was already working there for some time.

What makes this story all the more disturbing was that an employee was recently fired because she was texting during work hours. Not to condone texting at work, but is there not something seriously wrong with a workplace where a convicted sex offender who makes inappropriate sexual comments gets to keep their job and a texter loses theirs?

If you are an employer – big or small businesses, it doesn’t matter – do everything you can to safeguard your business from being held liable for actions that could have been easily avoided.

If you are an employee and you are being sexuallly harrassed at work, don’t accept it, report it. If your employer is afraid to “rock the boat” and does nothing about it, hire somebody like me who will do a thorough investigation.

If a victim approaches me from this gym, I will have the employee records subpoenaed, the hiring manager interviwed, court records of this criminal’s conviction and I will interview everybody in the gym who heard about his conviction ESPECIALLY the person who brought it to the manager’s attention.

Burying your head in the sand is not an option, unless you are an ostrich. Neither will courts be very forgiving if you try and use the clueless-large-flightless-bird defense.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Any employee who sexually harasses another should be disciplined. But a registered offender who is working should be regarded as any other employee. Most of these men and women are following the rules and regulations they are given. And these rules keep changing all the time. What was this persons offense? Mooning, streaking, or maybe turning 18 before his girlfriend turned 16. What are the real details? We need to know more.

  2. Anonymous says:

    It appears to me that your drumming up business for yourself. A little subjective in my opinion. How much do you have invested in security systems. I'd love to see your portfolio.

  3. Once Fallen dot com says:

    I have my doubts as to whether the gym worker in question has really made such comments. I can tell you from personal experience that the problems with hiring registrants come mostly from the people who use (and abuse) public registries. My last job was in a higher-end grocery store as a clerk, and within three weeks of my hire, people found out I was on the registry and started making anonymous complaints (all of which verified false).

    Despite getting perfect scores on employee reviews and from secret shoppers and even commendations from regular customers, I was let go because some suit from the regional office stated they do not knowingly hired registered individuals. They tried to fight having to pay my unemployment benefits, claiming I lied on my application, but that was also proven false.

    Most individuals on the registry will not commit sex crimes on the job, are hard workers, and will go the extra step to prove their value as an employee. In addition, the federal government has a bonding program and gives tax incentives for individuals willing to hire ex-felons, including registrants.

    Unfortunately, many states register where a registrant works, so many employers won't hire. National chains like Target and McDonald's will not hire registrants. This is not right.

    Statistics show that whenever an ex-felon, including a registrant, has a steady job, residence, and support network, the chances that individual will re-offend decreases dramatically. Think about that next time you turn a potential employee away.

  4. Nicolas says:

    This post you made is clear evidence of your desire to ride the sex offender gravy train. Seems like all you are doing is stating unproven facts about the sexual comments and making it seem like the employer is committing a crime. Your statements are unfounded and without merit. No one has made any formal complaints and the employer is not going to fire someone on hearsay unlike our justice system where hearsay flies, the employer will do something if there is proof and not just conjecture or hearsay. The employee who was caught texting was fired for doing that was apparently against company policy and was caught doing it. Its not like hearsay was factor here. Someone caught the employee in the act.

    So please stop using Sex offenders to promote your business and to give the public a false sense of security. We get enough of that from the federal government.

  5. Anonymous says:

    You do say what crime the offender actually committed. Perhaps it was sexting and therefore not so far removed from your texting example? Perhaps it was having consensual sex with as a teenager with another teenager. Or perhaps it was a he said she said situation. Your article seems to lump all sex offenders into the same "dangerous" barrel. There are almost a million men, women, and children on the registry. Stop using them as your scapegoats!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Selling a product, or course you are going to say what you are saying.


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