What Executive Order 158 Means for Businesses and Job Seekers in NC

North Carolina’s Governor Cooper recently signed Executive Order 158, which will implement fair chance policies at state agencies. The Order, effective November 1, 2020, will increase employment opportunities for people with criminal records.

What Executive Order 158 Means for Businesses and Job Seekers in NC

The Order removes criminal history questions from state employment applications and prohibits inquiries into an individual’s criminal history during the initial stages of the hiring process.

Additionally, state agencies must provide a reasonable opportunity for applicants to explain the circumstances surrounding relevant convictions and give proof of rehabilitation. 

These new policies, in addition to the recent changes to NC expungement laws, can help convicted criminals find a job without their conviction hindering them.


In June of 2020, the NC General Assembly passed the Second Chance Act, which is a clean slate bill that expands eligibility for expunging non-violent criminal convictions. It also automates expunging certain dismissed or not-guilty charges after December 1, 2021. 

Check out our recent blog for more about expungement, and give our legal team a call at 704-512-0606 for help determining if you are eligible. 

Info For Businesses

While Executive Order 158 is meant to dictate state agencies’ hiring practices, North Carolina’s Equal Employment Practice Act applies to employers who regularly employ 15 or more workers. It states that employers must give everyone the right and opportunity to seek, obtain, and hold employment without discrimination or abridgment on account of race, religion, color, national origin, age, sex, or disability.

If North Carolina’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) receives a complaint related to discrimination, there will be a lengthy – and sometimes costly – investigation. Learn more about the federal and state laws and executive orders that govern the EEOC here.

Protecting Your Business

There are many ways that you can protect your business and your employees. Check out our resources below, and let us know if you would like to schedule a consultation!

Our team of business law attorneys is experienced and knowledgeable in all matters of employment law. Whether you are an employee seeking guidance or a business in need of a legal partner, we are here to help. Call us today at 704-512-0606.