From the Intelligencer (PA)
Navigating the collateral consequences that may limit occupational licensing opportunities can be daunting even when applicable laws and regulations are clear about what types of criminal records may be disqualifying. But when license eligibility depends upon whether an applicant possesses “good moral character,” the impact of an applicant’s criminal record is often entirely unclear. A recent piece in the Intelligencer examines how these vague standards create uncertainty both for applicants with criminal records and for the licensing entities that are tasked with enforcing them. From the article:
Nearly three years ago, Courtney Haveman spent six months and $6,000 to complete the training Pennsylvania requires for people who work in skin treatment and hair removal. A local salon was ready to hire the Lower Makefield resident as an esthetician once she passed the state licensing exam.
It was another major accomplishment in her new, sober life.
But the Pennsylvania Board of Cosmetology didn’t agree.
The board, whose members include professionals in the field and state appointees, rejected her application to take the licensing exam after Haveman, now 26, disclosed misdemeanor crimes she committed while struggling with alcohol addiction. Her past conduct suggested that she “may not be of sufficient good moral character” to work in the beauty industry, according to the rejection letter.
“I was so upset. I was so discouraged,” she said. “I thought I was just one of those who fell through the cracks and lost out on my dreams.”
She wasn’t. Between 2015 and last year, the same state licensing board denied 70 other people the opportunity to take its licensing exams, citing the “good moral character” standard, according to Andrew Ward, an attorney with the Institute for Justice.