How Does a Criminal Conviction Affect Employment in Massachusetts?

Most people understand that in addition to facing potential jail time, large fines, and other criminal consequences as a result of a criminal conviction, the conviction will also remain on their criminal record. Having a mark on one’s criminal record can have numerous consequences, including making it more challenging to secure employment. Consider the following overview of how a criminal conviction can affect employment in Massachusetts, and call our law firm directly if you have more questions or want help pursuing an expungement or sealing of your criminal record. 

Do Employers Usually Conduct Criminal Background Checks?

The vast majority of employers conduct criminal background checks—it is very rare for an employer to not conduct a background check before officially hiring an employee. This means that if you have an arrest or conviction on your criminal record, chances are very high that your employer will learn of it. In some cases, this could impact your ability to secure employment. 

What Is an Employer Legally Permitted to Ask?

In Massachusetts, an employer cannot ask you about your criminal record or perform a criminal background check on you on your first application. This means that at the time that you originally apply, you cannot legally be asked about your criminal background and you do not legally have to disclose anything about your criminal background.

However, after your first application, things change. After the first application you submit, your employer can legally ask you the following:

  • If you have ever been convicted of a felony; and
  • If you have been convicted of a misdemeanor within the last five years.

If you have been convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor you must disclose this to your employer. However, if you have had an arrest or a conviction sealed or expunged from your criminal record, you do not have to reveal this. If you have any questions about what you are required to disclose or what an employer is legally permitted to ask you, talk to an attorney. 

Can I Be Denied a Job Because of a Criminal Background?

For some occupations, having certain convictions on a criminal record will automatically disqualify you. For example, many convictions may preclude you from working with children. Or, you could be denied a job in the financial industry because of a conviction of a financial crime, such as embezzlement or fraud.

Even in cases where federal or state laws do not prohibit an employer from hiring someone based on their criminal background, an employer is usually permitted to use criminal records to inform their hiring decision. As such, an employer usually has legal grounds to deny you employment based on your criminal background. 

How Can Working with an Attorney Help Me? 

Avoiding a conviction is the best way to mitigate the chances of a criminal conviction on your record impacting your employment opportunities, and working with a lawyer when you are facing criminal charges is always strongly recommended as such. If you have already been convicted of a crime, you may have the opportunity to have your record sealed or expunged, depending on the details of your case. 

Our Massachusetts criminal defense attorney at The Law Office of Paul R. Moraski can help you to understand your rights. Call today at (978) 397-0011 or send us a message online to learn more.