View Full Version : Application - Have you ever been convicted...

05-05-2006, 04:26 AM
Before I spend alot of time searching for the answer to this question, I thought I might throw it out to the fellow forumites because so often I find your advice helpful!!

My Company is a manufacturing facility. We still use the paper applications for employment to hire production employees. Can we ask this question on the application, "Have you ever been convicted of a felony?"

I'm inclined to say no, but I'm running into a dispute with one of my managers and need to back this up with something concrete. We've run into a situation where we have discovered that an employee is a convicted felon for armed robbery and he wears an electronic monitor on his ankle -the manager wants to let him go. Of course, we can't for that reason, but we don't want to run into this situation in the future. My Manager feels that if the employee had completed an Employment Application and answered "NO" to the felony question, then we could let him go for falsifying his hiring documentation.

We currently hire all employees through a staffing agency and they are supposed to perform a background check, etc. This person slipped through the cracks.

Can we ask this question "Have you ever been convicted of a felony?"


05-05-2006, 04:32 AM
I also work for a manufacturing facility, and I also use paper applications for employment.

Our application asks, "have you ever been convicted of or pled guilty to a felony or misdemeanor other than a minor traffic violation?"

If this type of question is not permissible, than I need to make some serious changes.


05-05-2006, 07:52 AM
I work at a manufacturing plant too and we have this statement on our application. "Have you ever been convicted, pled guilty, no contest to a crime or had deferred adjucation? If so, explain including date, nature of offense, and terms of probation. Note: Conviction of a felony is not an automatic bar to employment. All factors will be considered." If the employee answers falsely on the application, it is grounds for immediate termination. I got this verbage for the application from an attorney at an SHRM seminar I attended.


05-05-2006, 08:29 AM
You should check your state law. In Wisconsin, we cannot use a felony conviction as a reason not to hire unless the conviction directly relates to the job. E.g., child molester working in a school. Because we are manufacturing, there is virtually no felony we can use to not hire someone.

If you just want to use the question as a way to see if an applicant is being truthful rather than as a sceening tool, be careful how you use a "yes" if you are in one of these states that protect felons.

Paul in Cannon Beach
05-05-2006, 10:14 AM
Ranger, thats interesting. But you aren't saying NOT to ask, right? How else would you know if the felony was something that related to the job?

Would you hire an applicant with 2 prior convictions of assaults on co-workers?

I'll have to check my state regs now too.

05-05-2006, 11:08 AM
If you have concerns about this individual and if they were hired through an agency, can't you just contact them and inform that not to send this person back? Seems to me that this should be there problem to deal with not yours.
Good luck...

05-05-2006, 02:59 PM
We are a manufacturing facility in Ohio as well and use the same wording on our applications. Our attorney said this wording is permissible on the applications. Ours only differs in that it ends with "... within the past seven years?" Reason being the service we use to do background checks only goes back seven years which they said that is all they are required to do.

05-06-2006, 01:33 AM
I'm in mfg, use paper applications, and they contain that question. It isn't an automatic knock-out. Agree with the others about state law, though. You are an at-will state and can term for no reason, but don't use that as a shield for a bad reason.

I agree with Dutch about going back to the agency on this - I missed that on the first read. They gave you an employee that doesn't meet your requirements.

05-08-2006, 03:00 AM
Unless there is something in your state's statutes that prohibits, you are allowed to ask the question. What you do with the information may be a different story. To protect your company, stick to 'conviction' not 'arrest.' Then, be consistent with your deferral to hire (I presume that is what you are trying to justify.) Florida statute outlines specific convictions that are not allowed to work in certain industries without an exemption. As a guide, you can turn to something like that to decide which convictions to prohibit. Also, if your company doesn't have a policy already that prohibits certain convictions, you should get one in place and advertise in your job ads that criminal background verifications are done and their results are used to determine eligibility for hire.

Best wishes.

05-08-2006, 07:16 AM
We are a mfg plant also and we do ask but also put a disclaimer. This is how our application reads:

Have you been convicted of any law violation (except a minor traffic violation)? ____ Yes ____ No
If yes, give details __________________________________________________ ________________________________
(A “Yes” answer does not automatically disqualify you from employment, since the nature of the offense, date, and the job for which you are applying is also considered.)

05-08-2006, 08:05 AM
We are a mfg. facility and our wording is almost identical to Inelson's.

05-08-2006, 10:08 AM
Our wording is similar as well but we limit it to "within the last seven years."

05-09-2006, 02:21 AM
We are a manufacturing company, and use criminal background and motor vehicle convictions for these reasons:

- If they have no license or a history of DUI or other serious driving offenses they are screened out for jobs that require driving a company vehicle, rental or personal vehicle as part of their job. Also, if they can not drive a car safely, I won't put them on a forklift.

- Screen out felony sex, drug and violent offenders to protect our employees and maintain a drug free workplace.

- Look at the types of felony convictions that indicate they really shouldn't be handling company money, have our credit cards, etc.

I use, in most cases the 7 - year approach. Great feedback, I need to change my application language a little.

05-12-2006, 01:48 AM
At a recent employment law workshop the attorney said that in Ohio you can ask on your app about convictions of a felony and misdemeanor, but not an arrest. And the app "should define the term conviction to include pleading guilty, having a judicial finding of guilt, or pleading no contest". By defining conviction it is clear what it means and they can't argue that they had a different definition. If they were charged with a felony and plead it down to a misdemeanor and you ask about misdemeanor's they'll have to disclose it, unless they lie.