How to Keep Hope When Your Second Chance is Taken Away

Mar 31, 2024   |  By Ryan M. Moser

After college, Alex made some wrong turns and unfortunately found himself involved with the justice system. However, he believed that one day he could still find a good career doing what he loved.

When he came home, he was extremely diligent with his job-hunting and made sure he was prepared for every interview. He showed up on time, dressed to impress, had copies of his resume, and asked the right questions. Yet no one seemed willing to hire him.

Ohio voters enacted a ban-the-box law in 2016, prohibiting employers from asking about criminal history on an employment application, but–as Alex would find out–not all employers were compliant.

“A lot of places were still using their old job applications that had the question on there,” Alex said. “When I asked them for a current one they told me that they haven't got any new applications yet.”

“In my next interview I told the gas station manager I had changed my life and wanted another chance in the workforce,” Alex said.

They hired him on the spot. He excelled at the job, consistently getting praised for his work ethic, and was well-liked by his co-workers.

Then two months in, his general manager took him aside and told him he was fired because of his criminal background. When Alex asked him why, after so long, the manager said it was corporate policy.

“Being turned down for a job when you're formerly incarcerated is anticipated because we know there is bias,” Alex said. “But I never thought I'd lose my job months after I started.”

After being let go, Alex was ready to give up. He didn’t see the point in trying so hard to get a job and succeed at the job – only to potentially face another setback like this months down the road.

However, he learned about the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) and went through the organization’s transitional work program. While there, he took advantage of an I.T. certification program CEO was offering, and as a result was able to land a good job with a quality fair chance employer.

Alex’ story is just one of far too many. But together, we can start a robust dialogue and advocate for the change that is needed to remove these barriers.

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