Criminal History Bar to Employment, Even in Boom Town

By Michael Klazema on 6/6/2012

In the small town of Williston, North Dakota, it’s as if the recession that’s hit the rest of the country has never touched it. Williston, along with the surrounding area, is undergoing a big transformation thanks to a large oil field now being extracted. This oil boom has launched many high paying jobs, and new people moving to town every day to take advantage of the opportunities. One of those people is Epifanio Rodriguez Jr., a 49-year-old unemployed truck driver who arrived from Philadelphia with just a few hundred dollars in his pocket.

Rodriguez saw news reports and read online about the ease of finding jobs in Williston, and decided to move there after getting laid off of his job back home. Due to the demand for workers, and his experience driving dump trucks and tractor-trailers, he expected to have no problem finding a job. What he didn’t expect was that his over 20-year-old conviction would keep him from getting hired. Rodriguez said he was involved in drugs during his 20s, and served seven years in prison for drug charges and aggravated assault. However, he said he is now reformed, and doesn’t want to go back to being involved with drugs. When he was released from prison in 2000, he took up truck driving. Now, because he is upfront about his convictions, he is so far out of luck in Williston. The guidelines for pre-employment background checks are regulated by the Federal Trade Commission’s Fair Credit Reporting Act.

In a lot of states employers can still ask potential employees if they’ve “ever” been arrested. But unless like Rodriguez, they answer honestly, it is hard to find out about criminal backgrounds beyond seven years. If a job-seeker agrees to a background check, then employers can look up such records as driving reports, credit reports, verify education, civil and criminal court cases, incarceration records, and more. But according to, after seven years, records of arrest from date of entry, are not allowed at all to factor into the decision making.

Rodriguez said he has met others like him in Williston, who are out of luck because of criminal histories, even from long ago. He just wants to find a job driving trucks, live an honest life, and earn enough money to put his daughter through college.

You can’t always expect to find a potential employee as forthcoming about their past as Epifanio Rodriguez Jr. Do you know the laws when it comes to giving pre-employment background checks? Know who you can rely on. A company like has this expertise and will guide you through this process. has access to countless criminal databases nationwide, and provides several options for instant results. Their Ongoing Criminal Monitoring tool allows you to automatically run a continuous criminal background check against a name and date of birth, and they will notify you via email of any new information that may appear on the record. Or try their popular US OneSEARCH. This option provides information from more than 355 million criminal records from counties, Department of Corrections (DOC), Administration of Courts (AOC) and State Sex Offender Registries covering 49 states plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and Guam. Also included are national and international terrorism sources, more than 4.1 million photos, and their proprietary database of previously completed reports.


About - - a founding member of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) - serves thousands of customers nationwide, from small businesses to Fortune 100 companies by providing comprehensive screening services. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, with an Eastern Operations Center in Chapin, S.C., is home to one of the largest online criminal conviction databases in the industry. For more information about backgroundchecks’ offerings, please visit


Industry News

Tag Cloud
Recent Posts

Latest News

  • June 20 Repeat background checks are becoming more common, with companies in India leading the charge. What does this trend look like, and how can employers embrace it now to stay ahead of the curve?
  • June 19

    Every federal job involves a background check of some kind. These background checks and how they are evaluated vary based on job, department, and security clearance level.

  • June 18

  • June 14 Ban the box laws aim to improve opportunities for employment. Could they have the opposite effect instead?
  • June 13 Jacobs Petroleum Products is a regional petroleum company that operates throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and Maryland. Apart from their employees carrying much responsibility and have frequent contact with customers, the company’s hiring also tends to be segmented since individual store managers are responsible for hiring talent for their own stores. In this employment landscape, Jacobs Petroleum Products needed a reliable and effective way to screen its new hires for criminal infractions and other red flags.
  • June 12

    The University of Wisconsin System may tweak its hiring and reference check processes. The potential changes come after one of UW’s assistant deans was accused of sexual harassment.

  • June 07 Stories of abuse by coaches in youth sports leagues continue to crop up around the country, but rules and guidelines remain patchy and enforcement is often lacking. The struggle to implement an effective system continues nationwide.
  • June 07 Financial background checks, usually referred to as credit history checks, can be an effective way to find out if a candidate is fit to handle accounts, financial data, and other assets at your business.
  • June 06 The Society for Human Resource Management and the Charles Koch Institute recently commissioned a survey to find out how willing employers were to hire people with criminal records. The study indicates that managers, HR professionals, and employees themselves are becoming more comfortable with the idea of hiring and working with ex-offenders.
  • June 04 Are fingerprint background checks the gold standard for employee screening, or are they overhyped? We look at some of the myths and misconceptions surrounding these checks.