ABCs of Employment Law: Arrest Record Discrimination

In today’s business landscape, employers cannot refuse employment for discriminatory reasons. This includes discriminating against individuals with arrest records. How does having an arrest record affect your rights to fair employment opportunities? How can you be legally protected if you are discriminated against based on misdemeanors or arrests? The attorneys at Walcheske & Luzi are here to walk you through the basics, including how we can protect you from arrest record discrimination.

What is an Arrest Record?

The Wisconsin Fair Employment Act defines an “arrest record” as “information that a person has been questioned, apprehended, taken into custody or detention, held for investigation, arrested, charged with, indicted or tried for any felony, misdemeanor, or other offense by any law enforcement or military authority.” This definition covers more than you may think, so it’s important to know how your state considers the issue.

What is Arrest Record Discrimination?

Arrest record discrimination refers to the unfair treatment of individuals during the hiring process or employment due to their previous arrests or criminal charges, regardless of whether they resulted in convictions. This has a detrimental impact on individuals seeking employment, creating barriers to reintegration into society and hindering their ability to provide for themselves and their families.

How am I protected from Arrest Record Discrimination?

Arrest record discrimination can occur in one of two ways:

  • An individual is denied employment based on their arrest record
  • An individual is terminated based on their arrest record.

Employers can access records of arrests or misdemeanors for applicants and employees through background checks. Legal protections vary across jurisdictions but are generally covered by Ban the Box laws, or laws that restrict or prohibit employers from asking about past criminal history. Employers may be prevented from denying employment to applicants based on arrest records for past charges contained in any background check results and may also be prohibited from firing current employees because of an arrest. Our attorneys can help provide consultation based on your unique situation.

What is not considered Arrest Record Discrimination?

There are exceptions that allow employers to take certain actions based on arrest records without violating the law. In certain situations, an employer can temporarily suspend a current employee’s employment while awaiting the outcome of a pending charge. They may also be allowed to legally terminate an individual’s employment if the employee admits to committing a crime for which they were arrested, but only if the charge is related to the position.

Arrest record discrimination is a nuanced issue and it can be tough to know if you have a case without getting advice. Walcheske & Luzi attorneys are experts when it come to litigating arrest record discrimination cases, and we can help you protect the rights you are entitled to. In fact, our very own James Walcheske is among the top Arrest Record Discrimination attorneys in Wisconsin! Fill out a contact form today to reach out to us and get started.