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  1. #1
    hannahc Guest

    Question Misdemeanor DUI/Employment Application Question

    I was convicted of a misdemeanor DUI almost two years ago. My understanding (admittedly, anecdotally) is that it is illegal for employer to ask questions regarding criminal history that:

    1) Are not felonies
    2) Are not pertinent to the job being applied for

    Even though most applications state that "replying yes to this question won't necessarily disqualify applicant" or something similar, I don't want to answer yes to a question they have no right to ask. I am open about my DUI, because I regret it, it was an anomaly, and I want to discourage others from drinking and driving, but I don't talk about it in professional circles (for obvious reasons). So I have two questions:

    1) The question is phrased: "Have you been convicted of any criminal offense?" Do I have to answer yes? If I answer no, even if it IS an illegal question, can I be fired for it, should they find out later that I was convicted of a DUI (the job is in a supermarket, non-driving position)?

    2) If I DO have to answer yes to avoid getting in trouble later, how can I NOT answer the question tactfully?

    Thanks for your help.

    Hannah
  2. #2
    cbg
    cbg is offline Senior Member
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    Hannah: in most states you are correct, but an exact answer is state specific. There are states in which an employer is allowed to ask the questions you refer to. You will notice the requests that posters include their state; this is why.
  3. #3
    hannahc Guest

    State-Specific

    Thanks for your quick response.

    Washington (state, not D.C.).

    Any info?
  4. #4
    cbg
    cbg is offline Senior Member
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    Not off the top of my head, and my state info is back in my office, where I won't be till January 2. If no one else has been able to answer in the meantime, I'll check then.
  5. #5
    hannahc Guest

    Washington State Info

    cbg:
    Thanks for the help. Jan 2 is fine.

    Are you a lawyer, or just a frequent visitor?

    Hannah
  6. #6
    cbg
    cbg is offline Senior Member
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    I'm a Human Resources manager with a speciality in employment law.
  7. #7
    hannahc Guest

    Question Washington?

    I know you just got back to work, but...

    Any info for me?

    Thanks in advance...

    Hannah
  8. #8
    hannahc Guest

    Unhappy CBG? Any ideas for me?

    Sorry to nag; I'm moving in a couple of weeks, and I really want to get that application in. Don't mean to pressure...

    Thanks.

    Hannah
  9. #9
    cbg
    cbg is offline Senior Member
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    Sorry, hannah, I knew I had someone's state law question to answer but for some reason I couldn't find the post.

    According to the information I have, the state of Washington prohibits inquiries into arrests, but allows the employer to inquire about convictions that are related to the position. My list is about two years out of date, though, so it's possible that the law may have changed.

    I believe that at least one of the lawyers who regularly posts here is from Washington state; perhaps he/she will be able to verify if my information is correct.
  10. #10
    hannahc Guest

    Smile thanks!

    I appreciate your reply!

    So, two questions, then:

    1) Assuming that they can ask about arrests/convictions only as they pertain to positions, and mine doesn't require driving, then how do I get around answering in the affirmative? I don't want to lie, but I don't see any way around it.

    2) How do I find out the most current information about Washington's employment laws? Is there someplace online, perhaps?

    Thanks again.

    Hannah
  11. #11
    cbg
    cbg is offline Senior Member
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    First, they cannot ask about arrests. Period. Only convictions.

    Second DO NOT LIE. If you tell the truth, they can only use the information as it pertains to the job. So if they ask you about convictions and you tell them about the DUI, they say, okay, this job doesn't require driving so we don't use that in making our decision. (BTW - it doesn't mean they have to give you the job, only that they have to leave out the DUI in assessing your qualifications against everyone else's. And very few employers care about DUI's as long as the job doesn't require driving.) So it's not so much that they can't ask - they just can only use the information you give them if it's applicable to the position.

    However, if you lie about it and they find out, they can fire you - not for having a DUI but for lying. It's considered falsification of your application and is not only a firing offense, in some states it may mean you are not eligible for UI. (I don't know about Washington.)

    Of course, if they don't ask the question you don't have to volunteer it.

    Quite honestly, Hannah, if the job did not involve driving, as an employer I wouldn't worry about a DUI at all. It most certainly would not affect my decision about whether or not to hire. And I believe that most of my friends in HR would say the same. If you were convicted of child molesting or embezzlement I might have a hard time leaving that out of the decision process, but a two year old DUI is just not that big a deal in my opinion. But I would not hesitate to fire you if I ever found out that you lied about it.
  12. #12
    hannahc Guest

    Thanks again

    I appreciate the advice.

    Hannah

    P.S. and the source for current Washington laws?
  13. #13
    cbg
    cbg is offline Senior Member
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    I have a number of lists that I obtained through HR sources, but they're somewhat out of date now. Your best bet might be the WA state web site...[url]www.state.wa.us[/url]
  14. #14
    jbush Guest

    Employment Application Question VA and CT

    I was convicted of a class 3 misdemeanor in Virginia over 7 years ago. I am applying for a job in Connecticut and they informed me they will be running a background check. Will this conviction show up on the background check that is run?

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