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How can my criminal record impact my ability to get a job?

Whether you have been arrested or convicted of a crime in the past can have a profound effect on your ability to secure employment in Wisconsin. While employers cannot discriminate due to criminal history, the law is pretty broad in what it does allow your employer to do if you have a criminal record.

According to the Department of Workforce Development, your employer needs to decide if your arrest or conviction is substantially related to the job for which you apply. This means that circumstances exist that are similar for both the conviction and the job. For example, if you were convicted of theft and the job involves handling money, they employer may deny you employment.

You should note that only your convictions matter. Your employer cannot refuse to hire you based on an arrest only unless that arrest has pending charges attached to it.

It is also important to understand an employer cannot have a blanket rules that any conviction means it will not hire you. Employers must handle each situation on a case-by-case basis as they relate to the job for which you have applied.

If you are already employed when you are arrested or convicted, your employer cannot fire you. However, it can suspend you. In addition, if you do not disclose your criminal history when asked during the hiring process, an employer may not hire you due to that or may fire you once hired due to lying on your application.

You do have the right to file a complaint if you feel an employer dismissed you unfairly due to your criminal history. You can file that with the Equal Rights Division. This information is for education and is not legal advice.

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