North Carolina Expands Job Opportunities for Ex-Offenders While Reducing Risks for Employers

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On June 25, 2018, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper signed House Bill (HB) 774 which broadens the situations in which individuals convicted of a crime may petition for a “Certificate of Relief” and helps reduce the risks employers may face when hiring ex-offenders. HB 774 takes effect December 1, 2018.

HB 774 expands the availability of a Certificate of Relief to individuals convicted of “no more than three Class H or I felonies and any misdemeanors” and allows multiple convictions of a Class H or I felony “in the same session of court” to be treated as one conviction. Courts may also issue certificates if:

  • Twelve months have passed since the individual has completed his or her sentence. For purposes of this subdivision, an individual has not completed his or her sentence until the individual has served all of the active time, if any, imposed for each offense and has also completed any period of probation, post-release supervision, and parole related to the offense that is required by State law or court order.
  • The individual is engaged in, or seeking to engage in, a lawful occupation or activity, including employment, training, education, or rehabilitative programs, or the individual otherwise has a lawful source of support.
  • The individual has complied with all requirements of the individual’s sentence, including any terms of probation, that may include substance abuse treatment, anger management, and educational requirements.
  • The individual is not in violation of the terms of any criminal sentence, or that any failure to comply is justified, excused, involuntary, or insubstantial.
  • A criminal charge is not pending against the individual.
  • Granting the petition would not pose an unreasonable risk to the safety or welfare of the public or any individual.

HB 774 also protects employers from liability from most employment-related negligence claims when hiring or retaining ex-offenders with a Certificate of Relief if the employer “relied on” the certificate of relief in hiring or retaining ex-offenders, who must notify employers within 10 days of any new conviction.

On December 1, 2017, Senate Bill (SB) 445 – signed into law by Governor Cooper in July 2017 – took effect to reduce the wait time for criminal record expungement for first-time non-violent ex-offenders where the legal record of an individual’s arrest or conviction is sealed and erased in the eyes of the law.

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – a background check firm in the San Francisco, California area – “helps employers navigate the complex regulations around compliance and privacy laws, while providing resources and advocacy in helping ex-offenders find work,” according to a blog on BadCredit.org.

Dawn Standerwick – Vice President of Strategic Growth at ESR who brings 26 years of experience in workforce screening solutions – was interviewed by BadCredit.org and told them about her company’s ongoing efforts to help ex-offenders rejoin the workforce and become contributors to society.

“There have been a lot of laws passed that are intended to help ex-offenders re-enter the workforce,” Standerwick said, adding that ESR helps ensure employers comply with the legal protections afforded ex-offenders while also providing comprehensive screening services that help keep workplaces safe.

ESR ensures employers are compliant with state, local, and federal background screening laws – even with laws in direct conflict with each other. “We tell our clients the background checks that they run should be related to the risks associated with the job that the person is applying for,” Standerwick said.

ESR balances assuring a safe workplace with the rights of ex-offenders to work by complying with U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidance on the use of criminal records and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), as well as state or local laws that may conflict with federal laws.

The award-winning ESR Assured Compliance® technology helps to ensure companies comply with all applicable laws, helps minimize the risk to an employer of potential legal action related to background screening, and also provides automated notices, disclosures, and consents required under the law.

In May, ESR won the 2018 TekTonic Award from HRO Today Magazine that recognizes innovation and disruption in the world of Human Resources (HR) and recruiting technology. ESR Assured Compliance® won the award for disruptive background screening technology that helps organizations mitigate risk.

“Assured Compliance ensures employers are following the laws and is intended to help individuals who have a criminal record get back into the workforce,” said Standerwick, who is responsible for business development at ESR. “No one wants to create an entire segment of the population that can’t work.”

ESR Background Screening Resources for Ex-Offenders

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) offers job seekers an Applicant Support Center that includes information about ex-offender resources and a whitepaper on how ex-offenders can get back into the workforce. To learn more, visit www.esrcheck.com/Applicant-Support-Center/Ex-Offender-Resources/.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

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