For decades, the justice system tagged dads across America with felonies, effectively barring them from the workplace. With the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana spreading like wildfire across the States, criminal justice reform, overall, is becoming more progressive. Suddenly, serious jail-time for minor drug offenses is a thing of the past, and now, voters are questioning the legitimacy of background checks. For ex-felons who seek to change their lives, the barriers they face often force them back into a life of crime or permanent second-class citizenship. However, with a shift in the political climate, judges are ruling more in favor of second chances than punishment. New legislation has made it possible for some offenders to have their felony records sealed or expunged. Background check companies like Checkr routinely break FCRA rules on background checks, and companies like Uber who rely on these inaccurate reports break EEOC rules too. Good for the ex-felon or current felon, there are tens of thousands of dollars you can make from companies like Uber who deny you a job because of your background or Checkr who issues faulty background reports.
When that pre-adverse action letter comes, I’m sure your heart sinks and you feel less than dirt. The letter tells you they’ve found something on your report and they’re going to tell your employer about it. At this point, the company you applied for has already offered you the position, but it’s being snatched out of your mouth. You sigh and shake your head, defeated. However, if you are familiar with FCRA rules, you may be able to make a ton of money from the situation.
Say, for instance, you do have a felony on your background that is not sealed or expunged. An employer has a right to consider that felony. However, their decision not to hire you can not be solely based on your felony. Quite the opposite. The company has to get your side of the story. It has to take into consideration any evidence of rehabilitation while weighing if your job and nature of conviction would be a conflict of interest. For example, if you have a felony conviction for bank fraud, that’s probably enough for a bank not to hire you, unless you have some outstanding proof of rehabilitation. But if you have the same bank fraud felony but you’re denied an Uber driver position solely because of your bank fraud conviction, you may be entitled to money in damages and loss wages from the company.
Under the circumstances above, when a company like Uber flat-out denies employment to an applicant only because of a felony, that company has violated EEOC rules. To remedy this, you start off by writing a demand letter to Uber (or whatever company), telling Uber where they went wrong, how many hours of work you missed and the amount of punitive damages you deserve from the company. So, if they denied your employment a month ago, you would claim they owe you a working-month’s salary and whatever you assess the punitive damages to be. Also, you tell them you expect compensation within two weeks of the date on the letter and hope to avoid further legal action. It doesn’t mean they’ll pay, but it puts them on notice. Likely, Uber would be willing to pay some of what you demand, but not all. Doing it this way with just a demand letter which you should mail, you have no court or legal fees or overhead. All the money would be yours.
When a judge grants your record sealed or expunged, it takes at least a couple of months to be completely removed from public view. In between this time, if you apply for a job, companies like Checkr will unethically furnish your felony conviction to your employer. You can sue Checkr for this. Instead of suing, follow the steps described in the previous paragraph, but you send demand letters to both the background investigation company and the employer. The background company is at fault for 1. giving out a record that is under order to be sealed or expunged (violation of FCRA), even if it is not sealed or expunged yet. Uber is at fault for 1. Using a sealed or expunged record to deny you employment and 2. Not giving you a chance to present evidence of rehabilitation or mitigating factors (violations of EEOC rules). This way, you can earn money from two different companies. You can do this to as many companies you need to who unethically deny you employment.
When assessing your damages, you must not exaggerated. Demand reasonable amounts for lost wages. Whatever the job is, just calculate the hours of lost pay. When it comes to punitive damages, how long has it been since Uber or Checkr violated your rights? How impactful was that violation to your life? How was that violation illegal and to what degree? Reasonable numbers make your demand more reasonable. Remember, demand letters go to lawyers. So, use the right language to press the right buttons. A demand letter is short and free if you write it yourself, and you don’t have to go to court. Get what you can for free. Use your background to your advantage and become a wealthy ex-felon or felon overnight.
*This is not legal advice, and should not be taken as such.
Jermaine Reed, MFA is a writer from Chicago who writes fiction, nonfiction, local news stories and national news stories. For self-publishers, authors and other writers and creatives, Jermaine provides proofreading on Fivver. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here.