Ann Knuckles Mahoney, Associate in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s Nashville office, was quoted in the Bloomberg Law Daily Labor Report, in “Former Felons Seeking Jobs Fight for Right to Explain Their Past,” by Lydia Wheeler.

Following is an excerpt:

A week before Ria Schumacher was supposed to start a new online job with SC Data Center Inc., the company rescinded its offer.

A criminal background check came back showing she had been convicted of two felonies—murder and armed robbery—19 years prior. After reviewing the report, the company called and told her it was withdrawing its offer and that a confirmation letter would follow. Because she wasn’t given a copy of her background report before then, she sued. Her main complaint in her proposed class action was that she didn’t get a chance to explain or refute her record.

But do job applicants have a legal right to provide context when damning information is uncovered in a criminal background check? And can they sue employers if they’re not given that opportunity? The questions are dividing appeals courts at a time when states and municipalities are passing ban the box laws to bar employers from asking about criminal pasts on job applications. …

One of the primary goals of the FCRA, as the Eighth Circuit noted, is to protect consumers and employees from the dissemination of inaccurate information. So how do you correct inaccurate information if you haven’t even had a chance to see it?

Ann Knuckles Mahoney, an associate at Epstein Becker & Green P.C. who counsels employers, recommends clients consider what the prospective employee may have to say about what’s in their background report. She noted that some states like New York have laws in place to protect job applicants from being discriminated against because of their record and employers could be at risk of violating those laws for disqualifying an applicant without first taking into account how old they were when the crime occurred, the seriousness of the offense, and whether it’s directly related to the position they’ve applied for.

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