Up until recently, individuals with arrests or convictions on their records had a difficult time finding gainful employment. In fact, many individuals with less than perfect records were eliminated from the hiring process almost immediately, as New Mexico did not have a “ban the box” law. That all changed on April 3, 2019, when Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the “Criminal Offender Employment Act” into law. If you have a criminal record, it is important that you understand your rights under this law.
New Mexico is now one of several states, including California, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Vermont and Washington, to have passed the ban-the-box law. This law prohibits private employers from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal past on the application. Now, if employers want to ask about criminal histories, they must do so later in the hiring process. However, ban-the-box does not prohibit employers from making employment decisions based on a person’s particular criminal history.
To accommodate employers who do plan to use the results of a background check in their hiring decisions, the law includes language that requires those employers to include the contingency in the job advertisement.
On the same day that Gov. Grisham signed the Criminal Offender Employment Act, she also signed the “Criminal Record Expungement Act.” The new law went into effect on January 1, 2020.
Previously, prospective employees were not required to disclose information that had been expunged during the employment process. The new law takes this one step further and now entreats officials and those who receive the order to expunge to also act as if the criminal proceedings never occurred. At no point during employment must an employee disclose information regarding an expunged record.
New Mexico’s Criminal Record Expungement Act also expands the types of arrests and convictions that are eligible for expungement.
Learn Your Rights
At Simon A. Kubiak, Attorney At Law, PC, we keep abreast of the latest changes in New Mexico law, especially as it pertains to criminal proceedings. If you have a criminal past, and if you are tired of it holding you back from improving your future, contact our team today to learn more about your rights and what you can do to exercise them to the fullest.