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Equal Rights Division Newsletter - August 30, 2021

Your arrest record and employment - when it matters and when it doesn't

An arrest record is often confused with a conviction record, but the two are very different. If you have an arrest record, it doesn't necessarily mean you did anything wrong - it simply means, according to Wisconsin law, that you've been questioned or detained for allegedly committing a crime. When it comes to employment, there are times when your arrest record matters and times when it doesn't.

Employment after conviction

Only current charges can be considered

If you're a job seeker with an arrest record, you might be reluctant to share information about your arrest with employers. But it's important to understand that although you may be embarrassed by an arrest record, you can't necessarily be denied employment because of it.

When it comes to hiring, employers are only allowed to consider a candidate's current arrest record. A current arrest record is a pending charge in which no outcome is yet issued. If the arrest results in a conviction, the employer can consider whether the conviction is substantially related to the duties of the job.

However, if the arrest results in a dismissal, an acquittal, or some other non-conviction outcome, the arrest can no longer be considered.

Employers cannot use your arrest record as a reason to deny you employment unless the circumstances of your arrest substantially relate to the circumstances of the job. If it is substantially related, the employer does not discriminate when it refuses to hire a prospective employee.

Employers can, however, deny you employment if you give false or misleading information about your arrest record. /p>

Know Your Rights

Employers cannot deny employment to anyone based solely on arrest or conviction records. Job postings and hiring practices cannot show preference to individuals with "clean" backgrounds. And it is illegal to advertise a job as being only open to candidates with no criminal history.


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