Employers Overlook Criminal Histories Amid Staffing Shortages

Fort Worth Job Fair | Image by City of Fort Worth

A criminal background can be a major obstacle for individuals seeking gainful employment, however, a handful of North Texas companies are now overlooking an applicant’s criminal history in some cases amid a growing staffing shortage.

On Wednesday, applicants lined up outside the county Resource Connection Center (RCC) in south Fort Worth as part of the Continuing the Climb Re-Entry job and resource fair. The job fair focused on employment opportunities for individuals with challenged backgrounds.

In total, more than 800 available job positions were listed as open during the hiring event.

The press release explained that attendees can “Meet with more than 50 re-entry and veteran-friendly employers looking to fill employment vacancies.” Additionally, it noted that “Organizations will be onsite to connect attendees with programs and services such as clothing, education, financial literacy, health, job search tips and training opportunities, legal services, rental assistance, shelter, transportation, utility assistance and more.”

Suzanne Richards, who works with the EnVision Center of Fort Worth, was one of the organizers of the Fort Worth job fair. “Folks don’t necessarily know how to connect,” Richards suggested, “So we help bring them together so it’s easy. We remove the barriers.”

One of the applicants to benefit from the event was former inmate Darrious Tippens. Tippens attended the job fair looking for help setting up an email address, a career rather than a job, and support to keep him on the right path, according to CBS News.

June Richardson of Arlington-based Beezz Construction Cleaning attended the hiring event seeking a candidate to whom she could extend an on-the-spot offer.

According to Richardson, there were so many potentially viable candidates that it was difficult to talk to them all.

The changing economic landscape has made finding willing and potential workers all the more difficult, Richardson added.

Other large corporations to attend the hiring event included employers like Six Flags, In-N-Out, Wayfare, and Arlington ISD.

The Cornerstone Assistance Network of Tarrant County contributed to the job fair, which it said was larger and attracted more people than its previous pre-pandemic hiring event in 2018.

The problem is a lack of exposure, according to Andre Johnson of Cornerstone Assistance Network. “That’s why we’re doing as much as we can now to expose the community we serve to all the different resources that’s here and that’s available,” he continued.     

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