Are pending criminal charges basis for not hiring?

Due to circumstances beyond my control, I was arrested in 2004 and charged with two felonies. They are still pending, largely in part because the state refuses to acknowledge that they have no evidence, and I refuse to plead guilty to a crime that I did not commit.

However, I was recently made an employment offer, which has now been put in jeopardy after a background check.

Is it legal to discriminate based on pending charges? Doesn't that violate the principle of "innocent until proven guilty?" I had done some reading, but the law specifically references charges that are not pending (these have been for over a year), or convictions.

Also, by statute, if in a worst case scenario I were convicted, I would be treated as a Youthful Offender and my record would be sealed. As such, I feel it's unfair to discriminate against me, because if I was convicted, it wouldn't show up at all.

Do I have any rights in this situation?

1 answer  |  asked Jan 2, 2006 1:42 PM [EST]  |  applies to New York

Answers (1)

David M. Lira
Involvement with the Criminal Justice System

In New York State, an employer is generally free to discriminate against a current or potential employee on the basis involvement with the criminal justice system, whether it is just an arrest or pending charges.

There is a statute in New York State which prohibits discrimination on the basis of criminal conviction. However, this law is read so narrowly by the courts that it has very little application.

posted by David M. Lira  |  Jan 3, 2006 09:56 AM [EST]

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