Everyone Needs a Fair Chance

Mar 31, 2024   |  By Ryan M. Moser

Discrimination is not always easy to detect and can be impossible to prove, but Bridget knew it when she felt it. Since getting out of prison six years ago, there were many times that the formerly incarcerated mother of two applied for a job that she was qualified for and was passed over.

“I know it’s possible that many places I applied at just went with someone else,” Bridget said. “But I also know that I’ve been made to feel uncomfortable in lots of interviews, and have had my record held against me. It hasn’t been easy for me to find work.”

So when Bridget was told she was hired at the restaurant she applied at, she excitedly went through the checklist of things that the new job and paycheck would help with: rent for her apartment, food for her two kids, and the list went on. She felt relieved to be able to provide for her family again.

The restaurant manager said that he would call Bridget after her criminal background check came back, and gave her that week’s schedule. She already had her uniform and was ready to work.

“I was homeless and living in a hotel with my two kids, and just trying to get a good paying job,” Bridget said. “But after nine days he still hadn't called me back. The only reason I could think of for the change of mind would be my background check.”

The call never came.

That’s when Bridget turned to the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) for help with finding a job. Her job coach helped her get connected with a local restaurant where she was hired and is now on the track to management.

Because of this opportunity with a fair chance employer, she has now been able to rebuild her life and is focused on providing a better life for her children.

“They gave me the means to get an apartment, a car, and get full custody of kids,” said Bridget. “And when you hire a returning citizen, it gives us a sense of hope and purpose. It feels good when someone says they’ll give you a second chance.”

Bridget sadly is just one of many people that continue to face significant challenges accessing quality employment, because of their criminal record.

Visit MoreThanABackground.org to join us in calling for change.