House Bill No. 1284, the Mississippi Fresh Start Act recently signed into law, allows ex-offenders to receive occupational licensing board approval for specific jobs. The purpose of the legislation is to give those released from prison a better chance to establish new lives and contribute to society through meaningful, legal employment.

The governor of Mississippi signed the legislation in April of 2019 making it legal for ex-offenders, in spite of a past criminal record, to obtain professional board licenses required for certain types of employment under the law’s stipulations.

Conditions for allowing or excluding specific board licensing

Occupational licensing boards in Mississippi may prohibit ex-offenders from licensing only in areas that directly relate to their criminal history. For example, a person formerly sentenced for criminal drug activity could legally receive license denial by the Mississippi State Occupational Board of Pharmacy to work in a drug dispensing capacity.

Also, the licensing board must create clear requirements and provide convincing proof that standards set forth by the board determine why a person with a criminal conviction cannot receive a particular license.

The same person, however, with the proper education credentials, can receive approval by the Mississippi State Occupational Board of Nursing Home Administrators to work as a licensed Nurse Practitioner for a nursing home if no prior criminal record exists that would invalidate license approval.

Ex-offenders have a right to receive appropriate board licensing

Under the new law, an ex-offender who applies for a job in which the person has experience, is sufficiently qualified and holds occupational licensing board approval for that job may wish to hire legal representation to claim employment discrimination if the board rejects the person solely due to his or her ex-offender status.

People who fail to receive Mississippi State Licensing Board approval solely due to their ex-offender status may want to obtain legal representation to defend a legitimate board application from rejection.

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