The Connecticut General Assembly
OFFICE OF LEGISLATIVE RESEARCH
January 19, 1994 94-R-0201
FROM: Judith S. Lohman, Principal Analyst
RE: Employment Discrimination Based on Prior Conviction of a Crime
You asked for summary of the law regarding employment discrimination against ex-criminal offenders.
The state itself, in its own hiring, is generally not allowed to discriminate against ex-offenders. But there is no law that expressly prohibits a private or municipal employer from refusing to hire someone because they have a criminal record. The state has a statutory policy of encouraging all employers not to discriminate against applicants for employment on the basis of prior criminal convictions.
Because failure to hire based on prior criminal convictions may screen out minority candidates disproportionately, many employment lawyers advise employers to ask about applicants' criminal records only if the information is job-related. Under state and federal civil rights laws, hiring policies that result in disproportionate rejection of racial minorities may be deemed illegal if the selection criterion is not based on a "bona fide occupational qualification."
Sec. 46a-80 generally forbids the state and its agencies from refusing to hire an applicant solely because he was previously convicted of a crime. But the law does allow the state to deny such a person employment based on a criminal conviction if the applicant is unsuitable for the position based on:
1. the nature of the crime and its relationship to the job applied for,
2. information about the convicted person's degree of rehabilitation, and
3. the amount of time that has passed since his conviction or release from prison.
If an agency rejects an applicant because of a criminal conviction, it must do so in writing. It must state its reasons and the specific evidence presented and must send the rejection to the applicant by registered mail.
The state may not reject an applicant based on records concerning arrests that do not lead to convictions or on conviction records that have been erased. It may not distribute or disseminate such records in connection with an employment application.
The same statutes apply to state issuance of occupational, trade. professional, and business permits, licenses, or registration certificates.
STATE POLICY ON HIRING CRIMINAL OFFENDERS
Sec. 46a-80 makes it the state's policy to encourage all employers to give qualified applicants, including ex-offenders, favorable consideration in hiring. The policy is based on a legislative finding that the public is best protected when criminal offenders are rehabilitated and returned to society as productive citizens. This goal is directly affected by the offenders' ability to find meaningful employment.