Expungement Requests on the Rise for Job Seekers
November 11, 2009
The Wall Street Journal published an interesting story on today’s front page about the flood of expungement requests courts around the country are processing this year. Why? Because nearly 80% of employers conduct background checks on prospective employees and in this economy, where you have more people competing for fewer jobs, even the slightest blemish can derail the chances of landing the perfect job. We recently published an article on this trend and others that have emerged in today’s economy entitled, “Background Checks in a Tight Economy“.
What is expungement? Expungement is the term used for criminal records that can be erased, sealed or blocked from public view upon successful petition of the court. The spectrum of criminal convictions eligible for expungement has traditionally been limited to only the most minor infractions and in most cases for those that are not habitual offenders. The latest trend in states is to expand the spectrum of convictions in light of the current job market.
Check out the article below.
U.S. job seekers are crashing into the worst employment market in years and background checks that reach deeper than ever into their pasts.
The result: a surge of people seeking to legally clear their criminal records.
In Michigan, state police estimate they’ll set aside 46% more convictions this year than last. Oregon is on track to set aside 33% more. Florida sealed and expunged nearly 15,000 criminal records in the fiscal year ended June 30, up 43% from the previous year. The courts of Cook County, which includes Chicago and nearby suburbs, received about 7,600 expungement requests in the year’s first three quarters, nearly double the pace from the year before.
One petitioner is Wally Camis Jr., who wanted to clear the air about the time he threatened two men with a hairbrush.
Mr. Camis was hungry for work amid a divorce last fall. The 41-year-old Air Force veteran, who had worked as a security guard and owned a restaurant, filled out an application for temporary employment in Eugene, Ore., checking a box saying he had never been arrested.
When he followed up a week later, the temp agency told him no thanks — they’d turned up a 1986 conviction. Stunned, Mr. Camis recalled the night the two men threatened him and he pulled a silver brush from his back pocket, saying it was a knife. He called the police, he says, and later pleaded guilty to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a misdemeanor. The judge entered a “no judgment” finding and ordered Mr. Camis to pay a $60 fine.
“I thought that was the end of it,” he says.
Instead, 22 years later, Mr. Camis found himself fighting to erase traces of the arrest, joining the growing ranks of Americans who hope that clearing their records of minor crimes will boost their odds in a tough job market. To help, entrepreneurs have set up record-clearing services and local governments have passed laws to speed the expungement process.