But Congress is most responsible for undermining this guidance. States followed suit, and the list of banned occupations grew exponentially: private security guards, nursing home aides, just about any job involving kids. Former felons are now categorically barred from working in more than occupations because of laws and licensing rules, one study estimates.
Unemployment Insurance: Nine Things That May Stop You From Collecting Benefits
Partly in reaction to this growing list, and partly in response to the simultaneous explosion of the background check industry, the EEOC issued an updated guidance in The experience Rivera describes is just the sort that would not pass muster. This summer, the EEOC showed its willingness to enforce those rules. In , the Justice Department spitballed the number at 30 percent of working-age adults. A great many of these people have faced background checks.
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In explaining its updated guidance last year, the EEOC cited a study showing that 92 percent of large employers run background checks. The impact is similar nonetheless: billions of dollars in lost productivity, forfeited tax revenue for cities, rampant exploitation by employers, and a cascading series of bans and exclusions from civic life that make it almost impossible for these workers to achieve a stable economic existence. And all of these problems are concentrated in already struggling black and Latino neighborhoods. Much has been said about the dramatic rise in the US incarceration rate over the past three decades.
By , 3 percent of the US population was either locked up, on probation or on parole—a rate unparalleled worldwide. As Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow , has demonstrated, this trend disproportionately affects people of color—the Justice Department has estimated that a third of black men and nearly a fifth of Latino men born in will go to prison in their lifetime—and now underpins the stark racial inequity found throughout US society. Marijuana has become the engine driving that inequity. This past summer, the ACLU reported that black Americans are four times as likely as whites to be arrested for marijuana possession, despite reams of research showing no racial disparity in marijuana use.
He says two plainclothes officers stopped him and found a baggie of weed in his pocket. Townsend spent the next four nights—including his birthday—locked up and waiting to see a judge. They had food and shelter, he says, but not much else. By 17, he was working more than thirty-five hours a week as a grocery clerk while still going to school.
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He was a month away from getting into the union at his store when he got fired, thanks to a beef with another employee. I was still going to school, never dropped out.
And I got arrested for carrying a firearm. He considers this heft a liability on the street; it made him a target for people with something to prove. So he started carrying a gun. He came home this past April, hoping to go straight to work. First he had to find a place to live, a challenge immediately complicated by his conviction.
The knock-on effects of a criminal record are far broader than just job bans. A drug conviction will keep you from getting federal student loans, grants or work study. Several states also bar people with drug-related felonies from food stamps and welfare.
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And cities have passed a proliferating number of ordinances banning people convicted of certain crimes from a range of public spaces, including parks. But among the more striking bans is in public housing. Families can appeal the decision to a board and ask it to consider the particular circumstances, but the process is daunting. His girlfriend had given birth while he was locked up. Their daughter was born premature, weighing just one pound, two ounces, and she required oxygen and a tracheotomy tube to live.
It took some doing, but they convinced the city that they were homeless in order to be placed together in a shelter apartment. Martinez is young and, despite all this, optimistic. With the help of the Osborne Association, he applied and got into nursing school.
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But the opportunity may have also come because Rivera accepted that he had little choice but to work long, hard hours for minimum wage. He worked fourteen-hour shifts routinely and once even worked twenty-four hours straight, he says. Rivera has made deliveries for a Broadway ticket broker. I worked for the city!
Each state's program is different.
What do background checks show?
In most states, you can get up to 26 weeks of benefits. Some states offer less; Georgia is the lowest at 18 weeks. Whether you can quit and still qualify for unemployment benefits also varies from state to state. So before you quit, check the laws in your state. If you quit because your employer basically leaves you no other option, you may still be able to collect unemployment benefits.
Here are some reasons for quitting that may fall into this category. Lack of work. Some employers try this as a trick to avoid paying increased premiums. Apply anyway. Constructive discharge. If working conditions are so intolerable that no reasonable person would stay, you may have been constructively discharged, which means that unemployment will treat quitting the same as if you were fired without cause.
Constructive discharge is really tough to prove, so make sure your situation is severe before you quit. Demotion, changes in job duties and pay cuts may also be constructive discharge.
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Medical reasons. In others, it will, or you might not qualify unless work caused or aggravated the medical condition. Domestic violence. Some states allow employees who must quit because of domestic violence to qualify for unemployment benefits. Caring for a family member who is ill. Some states allow employees who must quit to care for a seriously ill family member to qualify.
Rules for unemployment compensation eligibility vary from state to state. What disqualifies you in one state may not disqualify you in another. Here are the top nine things that will disqualify you from unemployment in most states. Work-related misconduct.
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What constitutes misconduct at work may vary from state to state, as does the effect on your benefits whether it will disqualify you permanently or only for a limited period of time. Theft, embezzlement, violence and other criminal behavior will certainly disqualify you. Depending on the circumstances, insubordination, chronic absenteeism, carelessness, and rules violations may also be misconduct.
In some states, the misconduct has to be severe; in others, minor misconduct will disqualify you. Misconduct outside work. While some states have laws prohibiting termination for legal conduct outside of work, others like my home state of Florida not only allow employers to terminate for outside conduct, but disqualify you from unemployment benefits due to misconduct outside the workplace.
Turning down a suitable job.
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