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8 U. Pa. J. Lab. & Emp. L. 981 (2005-2006)
The Background Check Balancing Act: Protecting Applicants with Criminal Convictions While Encouraging Criminal Background Checks in Hiring

handle is hein.journals/upjlel8 and id is 993 raw text is: Comments
THE BACKGROUND CHECK BALANCING ACT:
PROTECTING APPLICANTS WITH CRIMINAL
CONVICTIONS WHILE ENCOURAGING CRIMINAL
BACKGROUND CHECKS IN HIRING
Elizabeth A. Gerlach*
I.   INTRODUCTION
Criminal convictions carry a stigma.' The stigma associated with
criminal activity may impact employment opportunities.2 Employers may
avoid hiring individuals with criminal convictions because they fear being
exposed to liability and feel a criminal conviction reflects poorly on an
individual's character, making the employee less desirable and less
qualified. However, once people who have been convicted of a crime
have served their debt to society, they need the opportunity for meaningful
employment in order to rehabilitate their lives and avoid falling into a cycle
* J.D. candidate, 2006, University of Pennsylvania Law School; B.A., 2003, Baldwin-
Wallace College.
1. See, e.g., PAUL H. ROBINSON, CRIMINAL LAW § 1.2, at 13 (1997) (The punishment
of an offender tends to stigmatize and condemn the offender and his or her conduct.); Eric
Rasmusen, Stigma and Self-Fulfilling Expectations of Criminality, 39 J.L. & EcON. 519, 519
(1996) (A convicted criminal suffers not only from public penalties but from stigma, the
reluctance of others to interact with him economically and socially.); Jennifer Leavitt,
Note, Walking a Tightrope: Balancing Competing Public Interests in the Employment of
Criminal Offenders, 34 CONN. L. REV. 1281, 1282 (2002) (Lifetime stigma as a felon
hinders ex-offenders from fully participating as active members of society.).
2. See Leavitt, supra note 1, at 1282 (noting employers' reluctance to interact with
offenders as a result of stigmatization).
3. See Avi Brisman, Double Whammy: Collateral Consequences of Conviction and
Imprisonment for Sustainable Communities and the Environment, 28 WM. & MARY ENVTL.
L. & POL'Y REV. 423, 436 (2004) (Many employers fear those convicted of crimes or
believe that ex-offenders will not be reliable employees.).

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