Q: I have had trouble getting a job because I have a criminal record. What can I do?
A: If a law or regulation blocked you
from getting the job, a Certificate of Qualification for Employment
(CQE) may be effective in removing the legal barrier. The CQE is an
order issued by a common pleas court that allows you to apply for
employment or a professional license even if your conviction may have
disqualified you in the past. If the court grants you a CQE, the
employer or professional licensing board must consider you on a
case-by-case basis. Also, once you have a CQE, any employer that may
hire you will be immune from “negligent hiring” lawsuits. Fear of these
lawsuits is often cited as the number one reason that employers do
Q: When may I apply?
A: You may apply one year after you have completed your felony sentence or six months after your misdemeanor sentence ends.
Q: Is there a limit on the number of convictions I can have to apply for a CQE?
Q: Are there situations in which I can’t use a CQE to help me get a job or a license?
You may not use a CQE to lift a requirement to register as a sex
offender, and you may not use it to reinstate a driver’s license that
has been suspended, cancelled or revoked. If you are a health care
professional whose license has been denied or suspended, there are
certain circumstances in which a CQE will not allow you to reinstate
your license. Also, a CQE will not remove any restrictions on employment
as a law enforcement officer. The CQE does not apply to federal or
Q: How do I apply for a CQE?
You must apply online at www.drccqe.com
To apply, you must have a valid e-mail address. You will
create an account with a user name and password. You will complete all
of the questions on the application and submit it electronically to the
Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC). The Ohio
Justice & Policy Center also has a detailed workbook to explain the
process, available at http://bit.ly/OJPC-CQEworkbook
Q: What happens after I submit my online application?
you complete the online application, an ODRC representative will review
it for completeness. If complete, you will receive an e-mail from ODRC
informing you that you may file your CQE application. You must file your
application with the common pleas court in the county where you live.
Q: Is there a cost to file the CQE?
Check with the clerk’s office of your common pleas court to find out if
there is a filing fee and, if so, how much it costs to file the CQE.
Q: What happens after I file my CQE application with the court?
court will review it and conduct an investigation. It will contact the
court(s) where you were convicted, as well as the prosecuting
attorney(s) involved in your case(s) and the victim(s). After this
investigation, the court will determine if it should grant the CQE
application. Generally, the court will grant your application if it
finds that the CQE materially will assist you with employment or an
occupational license, that you need it to live a law-abiding life, and
that you do not pose an unreasonable risk to any individual or the
Q: Do I have to attend a hearing to get my CQE?
courts do not conduct CQE hearings, except on rare occasions. You will
receive written notice from the court of its decision. If the court
grants your CQE, you will receive an e-mail from ODRC notifying you that
you can print the CQE.
Q: How long does the CQE last?
A: The CQE remains valid unless you are convicted of another crime.
Q: Why would an employer want to hire someone with a CQE?
law provides some protections to employers from certain legal claims
(such as negligent hiring claims) if they choose to hire someone with a
Q: Where can I get more information about the CQE?
This “Law You Can Use” consumer legal information column was
provided by the Ohio State Bar Association. It was prepared by Prof.
Joann Sahl of the University of Akron School of Law.