Pensacola, FL asked in Employment Law and Employment Discrimination for Florida

Q: Can my criminal background stop me from getting a job at Dollar General as a cashier

I'm a 34 year-old African American, living in Pensacola FL. I recently applied for a job as a cashier at Dollar General. They were in desperate need of employees, even holding open interviews. I hit if off with the manager right away, and the interview was a complete success. She "hired" me right away but I could not start until a routine background check came back.... Well I knew that my criminal history was a mess (I was also very honest during the interview about my past and criminal history) but I had confidence that it would work out mainly because I was employed at the time (I needed a second Job to pay for college and I had just found out I was pregnant) and before that was a Supervisor in a very busy seafood market for almost a year. A couple weeks later I received an email of my background check and a letter from DG stating that not only that I didn't get the job, but they WOULD NOT give me a job.... Is that right???

2 Lawyer Answers
Michael  Mayoral
Michael Mayoral
  • Coral Gables, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: Unfortunately, they are allowed to choose not to hire you based on your background. I wish you the best of luck. Keep trying, you're doing the right thing.

Bruce Alexander Minnick agrees with this answer

Christopher Charles Sharp
Christopher Charles Sharp
  • Employment Law Lawyer
  • Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: Although you were applying for a private sector job, Florida law prohibits state and local agencies from denying a person a license, permit, or certificate to engage in a particular profession or industry based on a prior conviction, unless the conviction was for a crime that was felony or first-degree misdemeanor and the offense is directly related to the type of work the person will do if hired for the position. The law also creates special rules for certain drug offenses.

In the private sector, however, Florida law actually gives an incentive and broad discretion to consider an applicant's criminal record. Like most states, Florida allows people who are injured or harmed by an employee's misconduct to sue the employer for what is called "negligent hiring." This is a claim that the employer should have known that the employee posed a risk of injury. In Florida, employers can avoid being dues for negligent hiring if they conduct a background investigation before hiring employees, including a criminal records check. If the employer conducts a background check with a job applicant's consent, it is usually protected from future lawsuits if the the check didn't uncover any red flags or information reasonably demonstrating that the employee was unfit for the job or employment in general). Employers aren't required to conduct background checks in Florida, but they are only legally protected from negligent hiring lawsuits is they conduct a criminal records check on all potential employees. Unless the employer is using the background checks to selectively exclude certain classes of people from employment -- which could amount to unlawful discrimination depending on the facts and circumstances -- the routine use of background checks does not generally give rise to any legal claims for failure-to-hire under Florida or federal law.

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