Do Felons Have the Right to Work?

Felons Have the Right to Work

When filling out job application forms, there is a question you probably won`t miss. Have you ever been convicted? This is because of felony cases; a felony refers to any severe crime whose punishment is spending more than a year confined in prison.

Different states have different rights as to what rights felons lose. Each state can decide which rights one gets back after serving their time or when they get probation. However, in most, if not all cases, felons do not lose their right to work.

Most employers are afraid of hiring felons, which is understandable. Therefore, convicted people have a hard time when searching for jobs. Some laws restrict felons from working in specific industries and may limit their actions by making it hard for them to get a license.

What the Law States

According to the federal government law in the United States, discrimination of convicted felons when it comes to offering jobs is considered illegal. Thus, employers may sometimes be deemed to be breaking the law while enforcing broad rules to discourage criminals.

Felon Employment Under State Laws

Like we earlier discussed, state laws differ with each state. The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows employers to go through a potential employee’s criminal history in the process of hiring.

In some states, the employer is given a comprehensive criminal record for activities, which did not necessarily result in convictions. For instance, in California, only reports for which one was convicted are considered; while in Massachusetts, the government highly discourages employers from hiring convicted felons. They believe hiring them will put the public in danger.

Other Factors to Consider

It is customary for an employer to conduct a background check on their potential employees. A criminal check is compulsory to check whether one has convictions either at the federal or state level.

Employers should not only judge one for being a felon. They should consider factors such as how serious the crime was and how long it has been since the conviction.

Some states, for instance, New York, overrule convictions that happened specific years before. Crimes that were committed several years ago are not considered to be of the same magnitude as those that have occurred recently.

Hindered Professions

In most states, felons are not allowed to work in specific industries. These restrictions are common, especially in sensitive sectors such as banking, law firms, teaching, and any profession that demands one to have a license.

These areas are often relevant for anyone who was convicted of financial mismanagement, theft, or fraud. Remember that omitting this information in your job application will not hinder the employer from obtaining it.

If a convict is lucky enough to get a state pardon by the governor or a federal pardon by the president, then the releases can negate consequences that come with the convictions.


Felons have a right to work but not in professions which demand licenses. Some employers will only be interested in checking whether you were convicted within the last five years. For convicts, when filling out job application forms, kindly provide all relevant details. As for employers, generously give felons a chance to showcase that they have changed for the better- especially those whose convictions are from 5+ years ago.