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Should I Consider Hiring Felons?

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By Christopher Coble, Esq. on May 20, 2015 3:55 PM

First and foremost, you want to make the best hiring decisions for your business. And maybe that means that you don't care if someone has a felony conviction on their record. Or maybe you say you would never hire a felon.

Either way, hiring a felon might actually be good for your small business. Between compliance with federal anti-discrimination laws and access to municipal contracts, there are a few reasons to consider hiring former felons.

The Stick: Apple

Apple may have run afoul of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines recently. The tech giant prohibited convicted felons from being part of the construction crew on its new campus in Cupertino, California, and, according to reports, several workers were kicked off the job because of past felonies.

Under EEOC guidelines, "if an employer's exclusionary policy or practice is not job related and consistent with business necessity," the employer could be in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC prohibits blanket bans on convict hiring and requires that any exclusionary policy must be job related and consistent with a business necessity.

Apple also received some bad publicity regarding its anti-felony policy, and in the end, public pressure and the fear of discrimination claims caused the company to backtrack. So you may want to reconsider a blank policy against hiring felons to comply with the law and avoid some bad press.

The Carrot: Los Angeles

Hiring felons could also be good for your business. Los Angeles County will consider giving preference on county contracts to companies that hire employees with a record. The pilot program will study the impact of giving preference to "nonprofit and for-profit social enterprises that have a history of employing men and women recently released from incarceration."

In addition, the federal government provides a Work Opportunity Tax Credit to companies that hire ex-cons. So providing second chances to recently released felons might help your bottom line. An experienced employment law attorney can help your business comply with federal hiring guidelines and make sure you're taking advantage of hiring the right personnel.

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