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What to do if your job applicant has a criminal history

The National Employment Law project research estimates that 70 million people in the US have some sort of a criminal record and 700,000 people return from incarceration each year. As an employer you’re bound to run into an applicant with a criminal history.

Given the nature of most jobs in the cannabis industry, it is reasonable for cannabis industry employers to create a hiring policy that declines employment to individuals that have been convicted of a felony at any time regarding the possession, distribution, or use of a controlled substance abuse.

In fact, Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) requires employees to have an issued Occupational Support License, or badge to work in the cannabis industry. To get this badge, MED runs a thorough criminal background check and disqualifies anyone with a drug related felony or anyone that has a government delinquency such as failure to pay child support, government loans, or taxes. In a way MED has done the initial screening for you.

However, if the potential employee served a sentence for a non-drug related offense more than 5 years ago, the individual can still be approved by MED for a badge. A job applicant can also lie about their experience and education, something MED does not check for. Therefore, as an employer you should still run a full background check, even if you’re running a Colorado based cannabis business.

Here are 3 things to keep in mind if you find out that your applicant has a criminal history:

  1. Consider the nature of the offense: Determine whether the nature of the offense is related to the job responsibilities and duties. In other words, does the offense indicate that the applicant will not be suited for the job position?
    1. For instance, a DUI record would be a red flag for an employee that will be driving while on the job, but it may be less relevant if you’re hiring a secretary.
  2. Consider how long ago the felony or misdemeanor took place: People can change and make efforts to better their lives. If the person started a family or has had stable employment for several years since the offense, this could indicate that they have changed. Another important thing to consider is how old the person was at the time of the offense.
    1. For instance, an applicant who had a criminal record at the age of 18 and is now 33 years old, has a family, and has been consistently employed for several years, may be a candidate you can still consider.
  3. If you decide to decline employment: You’ll need to send a pre-adverse letter to the applicant explaining the following:
    1. Reason for the potential denial
    2. Their right to correct the information
    3. The contact information for the company you use to run the report
    4. A copy of “A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act”

Then, you’ll need to give them a reasonable amount of time to correct any information on the report that may be incorrect or misleading. If after this step, you are still planning to deny employment you must send an adverse decision letter that notifies the candidate of the final decision.






Paul Gerber

Paul Gerber

Paul Gerber, in charge of business development, Paul joined parent organization of, Application Research in 2008 specializing in background screening for the property management industry. With the expansion of the employment screening division, Paul was the natural choice to head up marketing. With over 40 years of people management experience, Paul served as Vice President and sales manager for a large Los Angeles area real estate developer, and Chief Financial officer for a national mortgage servicing firm.
If you have any questions for Paul He can be reached at 855-361-1667 or by email at [email protected]

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