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Using CQEs to Remove Employment and Licensing Barriers

Published: Jul 10, 2023 by Monica Fuster

Many Ohio laws prevent individuals with criminal records from obtaining certain licenses or jobs. Luckily, there are several avenues to overcome legal barriers (or “collateral sanction”[1]), such as through record sealing, expungement, pardons, and Certificates of Qualification for Employment (“CQEs”).

Individuals with criminal convictions may ask an Ohio court of common pleas to lift the barrier preventing them from obtaining employment or licensure by granting a CQE.

CQEs provide relief from certain blanket restrictions, creating flexibility for applicants, employers, and licensing agencies. CQEs transform mandatory rules (for example, a law prohibiting professional licensure based on certain criminal convictions) into discretionary bars.

When applying for a professional license, a CQE creates a rebuttable presumption of rehabilitation. This means that certain criminal convictions, alone, are insufficient evidence that the individual is unfit. As a result, licensing agencies and employers may assess an individual’s fitness for the license or job on a case-by-case basis.

5 Fast Facts on CQEs

  1. CQEs were created in 2012 under Ohio Revised Code 2953.25.
  2. CQEs grant an employer immunity from negligent-hiring lawsuits (with exceptions).
  3. CQEs are not effective for federal offense or for overcoming federal-law job barriers.
  4. CQEs may be revoked if the offender is convicted of or pleads guilty to a felony offense committed after the issuance of the certificate.
  5. The CQE will not seal or expunge your record. Licensing agencies and employers will still see convictions on a background check.

Eligibility Requirements

  1. You must have been convicted in Ohio.
  2. You must be an Ohio resident.
  3. You must meet the applicable waiting period.

To apply for a CQE, petitioners must complete a 15-page petition that includes, prior convictions, prior employment, rehabilitation rationale, professional and personal references. The law surrounding CQEs contains important elements, limitations, and expectations. If you are considering obtaining a CQE, you should consider contacting one of the attorneys at Graff & McGovern, LPA. Attorney Monica J. Fuster can be reached at or (614) 228-5800 ext. 5.

[1] ORC 2953.25 defines “collateral sanctions” as “a penalty, disability, or disadvantage that is related to employment or occupational licensing, however denominated, as a result of the individual’s conviction of or plea of guilty to an offense and that applies by operation of law in this state whether or not the penalty, disability, or disadvantage is included in the sentence or judgment imposed.”