Soon, employers in North Carolina no longer will be allowed to ask potential employees about arrests, criminal charges, or convictions that have been expunged. A new law (here
) takes effect on December 1, 2013, and prohibits inquiries into expunged matters both on applications and during interviews.
The law specifically was enacted to clear the public record of any arrest, criminal charge, or conviction that was expunged so that the person who obtained the expunction is legally entitled to withhold all information about it from potential employers and others. If an individual does withhold such information, their refusal to disclose it cannot later be used against them. Notably, however, employers will still be allowed to ask about arrests, criminal charges, or convictions that have not been expunged and are part of the public record.
The law also applies to educational institutions in their admissions procedures, but it does contain an exemption for law enforcement agencies that are permitted to obtain confidential information for employment purposes.
It is also noteworthy that violations of the law cannot be the basis of a lawsuit against an employer that asks about expunged records. Instead, the N. C. Commissioner of Labor is authorized to issue a written warning for a first violation and a civil penalty of up to $500 for each subsequent violation. The amount of the penalty is to be based on such factors as the size of the employer’s business, whether there is a record of previous violations, and whether the person who committed the violation knew that his/her conduct was prohibited.