Last Updated on 2024-03-17

Does Instacart Hire Felons? Sometimes - Here’s What To Know

We worked with these active, experienced gig-workers to write this article and bring you first-hand knowledge.

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Michael Vaness

6 years of experience working across DoorDash, Instacart, and Spark

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James Tuliano

4 years of experience working across Shipt and DoorDash

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Catherine Meyers

5 years of experience working across Shipt and Instacart

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Phil Grossman

Experienced writer/researcher in the gig industry working alongside our gig-workers

The information provided in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, tax, or insurance advice. The content contains general information and may not reflect current legal developments or insurance changes. Any reader should consult with an insurance professional to obtain insurance advice tailored to their specific circumstances.

If you’re considering becoming an Instacart Shopper but worry that a felony conviction could derail your plans, there’s good news: Instacart’s guidelines do not explicitly discriminate against those with a felony on their record. 

While there’s no way to know in advance whether Instacart will hire you, your best bet is to apply and give it your best shot. Instacart evaluates complicated applications on a case-by-case basis, so the only way to know if you’ll be hired or not is to apply. 

Can you do Instacart with a felony?

To answer this in more detail, let’s look at Instacart’s official guidelines

Instacart takes background checks seriously, so if there’s a felony, Instacart is probably going to see it. However, the guidelines note that “Shoppers are given the opportunity to address any background check issues that may arise.” That means you can appeal the decision if your background check leads to denial. 

Most of the language in the guidelines is dedicated to ensuring safety for shoppers and customers alike. Instacart forbids any behaviors that could “injure others or create unsafe conditions,” and it specifies that “Shoppers who fail to meet the safety standards will be denied access to the platform.”

In particular, the following are forbidden: 

  • Violence or aggression
  • Theft or shoplifting
  • Profanity
  • Harassment of any kind
  • Alcohol or drug use while working
  • Property damage
  • Discriminatory behaviors
  • Jeopardizing food safety
  • Being accompanied by a non-Instacart Shopper

Note that this last point about being accompanied by a passenger is particularly important. James Tuliano, who has worked steadily for Instacart since 2020, says, “This one is pretty overlooked because it seems innocent enough, but if you decide to go Instacart shopping with your friend or partner, and either the store or customer tells Instacart, your account will very likely be deactivated. The person accompanying you did not go through the same vetting process as you did, so it truly is a safety concern.”

Instacart does not drug test, but they make it fairly clear that violating local, state, or federal laws is grounds for account deactivation. 

When it comes to considering someone with a felony charge, Instacart is likely to consider the type of crime, its severity, and how long ago it occurred.

What about misdemeanors?

Because Instacart doesn’t explicitly state its grounds for denial during a background check, there’s no way to know what the threshold is for hiring. 

Like felonies, certain misdemeanors are likelier to raise eyebrows — particularly misdemeanors relating to aggression or motor vehicles.

Are there any definite disqualifiers for the Instacart background check?

Although nothing is set in stone, certain crimes are likely to disqualify you from working for Instacart, including: 

  • Sexual and violent crimes
  • Robbery or burglary
  • Drug manufacturing or trafficking
  • Murder
  • Hit and runs
  • DUIs and other driving-related offenses

These crimes could make Instacart view you as a liability to their service and reputation and are more likely to disqualify you as an applicant. However, it’s still worth applying even if you have one of these on your record.

According to Catherine Meyers, who has earned around $14,000 with Instacart in the last five years, “There's a guy active in my local Instacart group chat who literally served time for drug possession with intent to distribute when he was in his 20s. He's in his late 30s and does Instacart as a main source of income and didn't get declined.”

If the Instacart background check shows a DUI, it’s less likely you’ll be hired

A DUI on your record may not automatically disqualify you, but considering the offense is directly related to the type of work you’ll be doing, it definitely makes it less likely that you’ll make it through the application process. 

That said, the severity of the offense will make a difference here: a felony DUI that resulted in a fatality is significantly more likely to disqualify an applicant, whereas a misdemeanor DUI from 6 years ago followed by a squeaky clean driving record ever since is more likely to be overlooked. 

Who conducts the background checks?

Instacart uses two companies to conduct its background checks. A third-party agency called Sterling performs high-level background checks for Instacart. This company uses both private and public databases such as state agencies, the Department of Justice, and the FBI. 

For criminal background checks, Instacart relies on a third-party service called Checkr.

How far back does the Instacart background check go?

Most Instacart background checks go back seven years, though the company may look further back if deemed necessary. Here’s how far different checks go back:

  • Civil judgments: Seven years
  • Non-convictions: Seven years
  • Tax liens: Seven years
  • Accounts placed in collection: Seven years
  • Bankruptcy filings: Ten years

The most important work starts before you apply

The National Institute of Justice writes that expunging a criminal record “can help open the door to a second chance at life.” 

Expungement varies from state to state and depends upon the severity and the age of crime, whether you have committed the crime more than once, and how recently the last offense occurred.

In many cases, the source of a criminal record can be autonomous scrapers or sales by third-party websites — this will include things like arrests and charges and don’t always reflect current legal standing. In other words, there is little or no coordination across different agencies, and there’s no single source of truth for your background check.

This is another reason why it’s a worthwhile investment to try to have your record officially expunged. Several states have joined a national trend of passing “Clean Slate” laws, which provide a pathway for automatic record clearance. These states include:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Utah
  • Virginia

If you have a felony record, you can read up on Clean Slate laws and how to take advantage of them. 

The most common means of expungement is by petition. This involves petitioning the court to either partially or completely clear a criminal record. Check your state’s laws on how to file a petition.

What to do if your Instacart background check is denied

Luckily, there is an appeals process if your Instacart background check is denied. 

If you feel your background check pulled up inaccurate information, you should file an appeal. Start the process by compiling evidence that will support your claim. After you’ve submitted it, Instacart and its partners will investigate and either update the background check or confirm the denial.

You can file a complaint with the Instacart support team if you aren’t satisfied with the final results. This is a good opportunity to explain in plain English why you feel your application denial is unfounded.

Other delivery apps that hire felons

If you don’t get accepted by Instacart, you may still be able to work for other delivery apps like DoorDash, Shipt, and Walmart Spark, which have similar policies on felons. A denial from one doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get denied on another, so it’s a good idea to apply to as many as possible to increase your odds of being accepted. 

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