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Does Panera Bread Hire Felons in 2021?

By Last update September 24, 2018
does Panera bread hire felons in their restaurants

There’s a good chance that there’s a Panera Bread hiring nearby if you’re reading this article. Naturally, the first question you’re wondering is: Does Panera Bread hires felons? Who wouldn’t want to work in a bakery?

To give you a leg up, we have contacted Panera directly to answer that very question, as well as several others. Over the course of this article, we will answer:

  1. Does Panera Bread hire people with misdemeanors?
  2. How can I get hired at Panera Bread with a felony?
  3. Does Panera Bread do background checks?
  4. What entry-level jobs should you look into at Panera Bread?
  5. Does Panera Bread drug test?

Our team has terrific experience helping former felons find employment and have hired several former felons ourselves. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how to get hired at Panera Bread.

Does Panera Bread hire felons?

does Panera bread hire felons in their restaurants

Official company policy for hiring felons

According to the person we spoke to:

“Panera considers all job-related aspects of each candidate’s background and experience. As such, there are no specific policies or programs in place related to candidates with criminal or felony convictions.”

Has Panera Bread hired felons in the past?

The official statement suggests you can get a job at Panera with a felony conviction. However, we know from other sources that they’ve hired former felons in the past.

Does Panera Bread hire people with misdemeanors?

The Panera Bread application only asks about felonies, not misdemeanors. On top of that, our sources confirm that not only does Panera Bread hire felons, they also hire people with misdemeanors.

Is Panera Bread on the Ban the Box list?

Panera Bread is not on the Ban the Box list. If a company is on this list, it means they no longer ask about convictions on their job application. Similar legislation enacted by the White House, called the Fair Chance Business Pledge, is aligned with helping former felons find jobs. While Panera Bread hasn’t signed onto this, either, they do give each applicant a fair chance.

Does Panera Bread have special programs for hiring felons?

The statement from Panera Bread confirms they have no special programs for hiring felons. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t apply. After all, they consider applicants on a case-by-case basis.

What are the odds someone with a felony will get hired?

High likelihood of being hired with a felony

We believe you have a high chance of being hired at Panera Bread with a felony. Our assessment is based on the company’s official statement and feedback from Panera Bread employees. There are never any guarantees, but you have better chances here than at another company.

What are some entry-level jobs?

Most entry-level jobs require you to work quickly and as part of a team. It’s a fast-paced environment. A variety of shifts are offered, as well as full- and part-time work, including nights, weekends and holidays. Some positions may even ask you to work at multiple locations.

  • Sanitation Operator

Working at the Fresh Dough Facility, your job is to make sure equipment used to make dough is safe and clean for daily use. You’ll take apart equipment, clean and sanitize it, and put it back together.

This job is physical. You need to be able to lift 50 lbs and sometimes help push cabinets up to 400 lbs. This position requires you to work on a variety of tasks with limited supervision. Experience is preferred, but not required, in food manufacturing, as is knowledge of food safety and sanitation.

  • Driver

Your job is delivering orders to customers. A driver’s license, clean driving record and a vehicle you can use is required.

Drivers need to handle food safely, deliver orders quickly, treat customers with politeness and respect, and work flexible hours. You’ll also help out at the bakery. Drivers are paid competitive wages, daily mileage and tips.

  • Customer Service Associate

You are the face of Panera Bread. Being familiar with the menu and making sure customers’ needs are met in a friendly and efficient way are key. You will be part of a tip pool!

An understanding of basic food safety is important. Previous retail or food service experience is helpful, but not necessary. Depending on the location, you might also work as a cashier.

  • Line Cook

If you know basic cooking and meal preparation, this is a good position for you. Food orders must be prepared accurately and quickly.

How to get hired at Panera Bread with a felony

You can apply online or directly at the bakery-cafe with a Panera Bread application.

List any volunteer work you’re doing in the community while you’re looking for a job as well as relevant work experience. You can also add anything you did in prison, such as tutoring other inmates. The more job-specific, the better!

Our best advice is to apply directly at a bakery-cafe. It can also be helpful to sign up online for job alerts, particularly if where you want to work isn’t hiring right away.

Here are some other tips:

  • Avoid lunch and dinner rush hours when you go.
  • Be friendly and positive when you meet the hiring manager. Make a good impression before they can judge you as a former felon.
  • If they’re not hiring, ask if you can call back later. This shows you’re determined to put your best foot forward.
  • Practice answering questions about your criminal record to show you’ve learned from your mistakes.

Most importantly, get a referral. These are worth their weight in gold.

If you know someone who already works here, that’s great. If not, ask for a letter of recommendation from a former employer or a person of authority. These go a long way with employers!

Advantages of working for Panera Bread

They’re a large employer expanding rapidly across the United States and always need staff. There are interesting entry-level jobs and different working hours. On-the-job training is offered and you could be trained for more than one position. This makes it more likely you can advance in the company.

Benefits include competitive pay, a 401(k) retirement plan, paid vacation, health benefits and food and service discounts nationwide.

If you’d like to work for a family-oriented company with a great reputation and lots of opportunity for advancement, we’re confident saying you should consider Panera Bread.

Does Panera Bread do background checks?

By law, all employers must at least confirm identity and eligibility to work in the United States. Our research shows the type of background check done is at the manager’s discretion, and also depends on the job.

Some positions have greater responsibility. For example, you might have a key if you’re working nights or you may need to open the safe to do deposits. Therefore, the manager might want to do a credit check. In the blog, Why Employers Check Credit — and What They See, it’s explained, “Employers will sometimes check credit to get an insight into a potential hire, including signs of financial distress that might indicate risk of theft or fraud.”

Here’s what you need to know about background checks:

Some states won’t look at convictions more than seven years old. However, if your offense was six years ago, you’ll want until next year to apply in these states:

  • California
  • Colorado*
  • Kansas*
  • Maryland*
  • Massachusetts
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire*
  • New York*
  • Texas*
  • Washington*

(* sometimes certain pay or salary bracket positions require one.)

Even better, there are states that don’t consider court cases were you were found not guilty. Eight states are currently on this list:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Hawaii
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • New York

However, there are still some states that will look at your whole record. This includes your not guilty verdicts. Be aware, if you live in one of these states, that they will see everything:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Connecticut
  • DC
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • New Jersey
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Company ratings

According to, Panera Bread has quite a good rating. It rates them 3.2 out of 5 based on almost 6,000 individual employee reviews. Two thousand of these are from full-time employees, who give them a 3.6 out of 5. Fifty-three percent said they would recommend the company to a friend, and 61% approved of the CEO.

Here are a couple of examples of what people had to say:

“Flexible hours, great work environment, managers really care about their employees”

“Good work environment, great people, amazing pay.”

What felony convictions might have a hard time getting hired here?

Certain felonies could have a harder time getting hired at Panera Bread. If the job includes handling cash, Panera Bread will want to know about any theft convictions. If you’ve got driving offenses such as any DWIs, you may have difficulty becoming a Driver.

Be aware of how your record stacks up with the position’s requirements before you apply.

Does Panera Bread drug test?

Our research shows Panera Bread does not require a drug test for entry-level positions. In fact, the job application makes no mention of drug tests. While we can’t say for certain they will never drug test, the odds are good they won’t test you right away.

Have you applied for a job or worked here? Share your experiences!

Was this article helpful? Do you have experience on how to get a job at Panera Bread with a felony? Does Panera Bread hire people with misdemeanors? More importantly, what tips helped you the most?

Share your comments below. Good luck!

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Sandy Bell-Murray
Reentry Educator

Sandy Bell-Murray worked for more than thirty years for the Ontario public service, mainly in adult and youth justice. She began as a Probation and Parole Officer, then became a policy analyst, program supervisor and manager. Currently, she delivers workshops focused on building personal resilience and managing stress. She is an active member of Toastmasters International.