BlogFair Hiring

Hashim Lowndes

Finding new pathways to employment

Hashim Lowndes
Hashim Lowndes

Hashim, who was recently married, knew he needed to get additional job training to find the kind of economic stability he wanted for his family. In his words, “McDonalds wasn’t doing all I needed done.” He enrolled in a 15 month H.V.A.C. (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) course where he earned numerous state occupational certificates.

When Hashim graduated in October 2014, he had a lot to be optimistic about: he was trained in a high-growth field that promised to be a leap in terms of earning potential and stability for his newly formed family. After his first interview, though, Hashim realized that his ten year old criminal record would pose a greater barrier than he imagined. In the next six interviews, the pattern continued: employers were impressed with his qualifications and were all but ready to hire him until they discussed his criminal record.

Hashim came to our Second Chance Community Legal Clinic at the Freestore Foodbank, and OJPC staff helped him apply for a Certificate of Qualification for Employment (CQE) so he could find work in his chosen field. CQE’s, which OJPC was instrumental in creating in 2012, help people overcome criminal record barriers to employment and protect employers from liability in hiring a certificate holder.

The morning Hashim came to our office to finalize his application, he was nervous because he had another interview that afternoon and dreaded the idea that he would once again be denied because of his criminal record. This time, however, Hashim came prepared with OJPC’s written materials explaining how CQE’s make it easier to hire certificate holders. Near the end of the day, Hashim phoned OJPC elated with the news; the employer was very impressed with the CQE and he was hired on the spot.

Overly broad employment restrictions on those with criminal records often keep people like Hashim from being productively employed. The Second Chance Community Legal Clinics work to help them remove what is often the final obstacle to reaching out and grasping those things for which they have worked so hard.