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Is it illegal to lie about your criminal history on a job application for a software engineer for FDIC insured brokerage firm?

New York, NY |

Hello all,
I'm a software engineer and recently got a job opportunity to work for an FDIC insured brokerage firm that offers an electronic stock trading platform for customers. Would it be illegal to lie on a job application about my felony conviction under any New York state or Federal law? Considering the fact that nothing on the job application states that "I'm under oath of any kind" and there are no statements stating that "I may be prosecuted if I lie". My conviction is not fraud related. Unfortunately I have tried in the past to be truthful with potential employers after receiving a job offer and ended up hearing bunch of excuses as to why they think I could be a liability for the company. My question is, would I be risking my freedom by lying on a job application?
Thanks in advance

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Attorney answers 3

Best Answer

I don't think the FDIC has anything to do with your securities registration to work for an on-line brokerage. FINRA and the SEC deal with such things, and your application to work for a broker/dealer is through, among other things, a Form U4. You are required without exception to offer complete and truthful answers to the questions on the form. Your failure to do so will likely result in a lifetime ban from the securities industry. Questions 14(a)(1) and (2) of your Form U4 should be self-explanatory.

That being said, you are going to have to find a firm with whom you can be upfront about your criminal history. If they like you enough, they should shepherd through the registration process and assist in asking for a waiver from FINRA if needed.

The foregoing is not legal advice nor is it in any manner whatsoever meant to create or impute an attorney/client relationship.



Hi Robert, Thank you for the explanation. I did followed your advice and looked up the Form U4. Are these dealer / brokers mandated to ask their employees to fill out Form U4 without considering employee's fiduciary responsibility? I'm a software engineer and have no authority to move funds, give a financial advice or make any kind of decision that involves trading in financial securities. I just design these tools for online users. Also thank you for a sincere advise me to be truthful with employers. I have been truthful in the past on multiple occasions and wasn't able to find any kind of job within the scope of my profession. I got nothing but a pale face from HR person when I told them I was a felon, and everything after that was damage control, how to get rid of me without a law suit (they asked me about criminal history after accepting the offer). Being truthful at best got me a construction job that I had to quit since I'm really not built for that. Meantime I do have a family to support and I wouldn't been lying to a prospective employer absent choice. Once again, thank you for your advice. I think I've learned today to stay away from financial companies at this time. And maybe one day when I build my own hedge fund I'll come back again for your advice:)


No, but it would be grounds for terminating you once they found out. You need to consult an employment lawyer before answering. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is taking a hard look at companies that discriminate against people with criminal convictions. The New York State Human Rights Law also makes it illegal to discriminate against applicants with past convictions.



Thank you Arthur, I'm glad to hear that it's not a crime. I will definitely look into Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for more information and see if they can help me with my current interviewing process. Thanks again.


What is the point of lying? Don't you think they will do a background check?

I am a former federal and State prosecutor and have been doing criminal defense work for over 16 years. I was named to the Super Lawyers list as one of the top attorneys in New York for 2012 and 2013. No more than 5 percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by Super Lawyers. Martindale-Hubbell has given me its highest rating - AV Preeminent - in the areas of Criminal Law, Personal Injury, and Litigation. According to Martindale-Hubbell”AV Preeminent is a significant rating accomplishment - a testament to the fact that a lawyer's peers rank him or her at the highest level of professional excellence." Fewer than 8% of attorneys achieve an AV Preeminent rating. I also have the highest ranking – “superb” – on Avvo. The above answer, and any follow up comments or emails is for informational purposes only and not meant as legal advice.



Hi Eric, Some companies do, some don't, some just do a public record search or a limited background search because they don't consider the position to be that important and don't want to waste money. The reason I posted this question is I want to make sure that I'm not violating the law if I check the box "no, I have not been convicted of a felony" because checking that box seems to never even land me a job as a programmer.

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