NEW LAW: North Carolina Amendment of Its Certificate of Relief Law Impacts Employers

Under existing North Carolina law, individuals who have been convicted of certain crimes to petition our courts for a “certificate of relief,” which, if granted, provide the petitioning individual with relief from some “collateral consequences” of a conviction.  In other words, the individual is not “pardoned’, and the conviction is not expunged from the individual’s record, but the individual may be able to obtain certain types of occupational licenses that they might otherwise be disqualified from obtaining due to the conviction.

North Carolina recently passed House Bill 774, which modifies the existing laws governing certificates of relief.  While the law’s main impact is on individuals, the changes to the law also affect North Carolina employers.

Under the older version of the law, North Carolina employers who knew that an employee or applicant had been issued a certificate of relief were protected from some negligence claims associated with the hiring and/or retention of that individual.   While that protection still exists, under the new law it only extends to certificates of relief upon which the employer relied at the time of the alleged negligence.

Take Home For Employers

In light of this new law, it is very important that employers carefully document when they have relied upon a certificate of relief when making an employment decision.