PRIOR CRIMINAL CONVICTIONS ARE NO LONGER A PER SE BAR TO EMPLOYMENT LICENSING IN KENTUCKY
Prior criminal convictions are no longer a per se bar to employment licensing in Kentucky
In 2017, the Kentucky legislature provided more protection for individuals with criminal backgrounds seeking employment licensing. Many employment fields, public and private, require practitioners to obtain a state license to operate. This allows the field to police itself and to make sure that practitioners of the profession meet minimal standards of competency. Until 2017, many individual practitioners could not practice their trained profession because they had a prior criminal conviction that barred them from obtaining a license. This kept many now law abiding citizens from obtaining meaningful employment.
In mid-2017, the Kentucky legislature enacted KRS 335B to combat this injustice. Section 335B changed the statutory language related to occupational licensing. No longer can an individual be denied an employment license solely due to a prior criminal conviction. Specifically, section 335B states:
“No person shall be disqualified from public employment, nor shall a person be disqualified from pursuing, practicing, or engaging in any occupation for which a license is required solely because of a prior conviction of a crime, unless the crime for which convicted directly relates to the position of employment sought or the occupation for which the license is sought.”
There is quite a bit to unpack here. First, this is a far-cry from the previous language of 335B, which stated that anyone could be denied a license if the licensing authority found that the individual lacked “good moral character.” The new language of the statute now requires the licensing authority to “directly relate” the convicted crime to the license needed for employment. To make this relational determination, the licensing authority has to evaluate the seriousness of the prior criminal conviction, the amount of time since the criminal conviction, and the relationship of the crime to the regulating of the licensed profession.
If the licensing authority finds that the criminal conviction disqualifies the applicant, the authority must notify the applicant in writing of the reasons, as well as notify them of the next date they can re-apply. Additionally, if the applicant is denied a license, the applicant has a right to hearing to plead their case. If the applicant is still denied a license after the hearing, the applicant has the right to appeal their case to the Franklin County Circuit Court.
For professionals seeking employment after a criminal conviction, this change in the law offers more protection. If you have been denied an employment license from the state, or are afraid that you will be denied a license in the future, do not hesitate to contact me. Sound legal representation might be the difference between employment in your trained field and being denied employment all together.