L.A. Moving to Ban Criminal Background Question

September 29, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

A proposed ordinance that would bar employers in Los Angeles from asking job applicants to reveal their criminal records during the initial stages of the recruitment process cleared the City Council’s Economic Development Committee Tuesday.

The measure would institute a policy known as “ban the box,” requiring employers to remove any check boxes from job forms that ask about an applicant’s criminal record.

Under the proposed ordinance advanced by the Economic Development Committee, employers with 10 or more workers would be prohibited from asking about criminal history until a conditional job offer has been made.

“For far too long, there has been discrimination in employment on the basis of criminal record,” said Councilman Curren Price, who chairs the Economic Development Committee and authored a motion to approve the measure.

“Today, we are sending a clear message that it is not morally right to be denied a job solely because of past mistakes,” Price said. “Qualified applicants should be judged based on their skills and experience alone.”

Price pointed to statistics from the National Institute of Justice that show the likelihood of a job offer goes down 50 percent if an applicant has a criminal record.

The measure is part of a national movement aimed at giving formerly incarcerated people a better chance at obtaining employment. Representatives of groups like A New Way of Life, LA Voice, Homeboy Industries and All of Us or None spoke in favor of Los Angeles adopting the ban.

Under the proposed ordinance, an employer that ultimately decides against hiring a person after learning about his or her criminal record would need to provide a justification for why the job offer is being rescinded.

Employers that violate the law would face $500 to $2,000 in fines for each instance.

The proposed ordinance — along with another policy that would place similar prohibitions and penalties on city contractors — will be taken up next by the Entertainment and Facilities Committee. If approved there, the ordinances would go to the full City Council for consideration.

 

CA Group Asks President Obama to ‘Ban the Box’

July 30, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Advocates for prisoners incarcerated in California are asking President Barack Obama to take action to ban the question about criminal convictions on applications for federal jobs, and positions with federal contractors.

Their calls come after the president’s recent comment that the country should “ban the box” on all job applications. Doing so would delay a criminal background check until the applicant has had a chance to prove his or her qualifications.

Dorsey Nunn, executive director of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (LSPC), says the national publicity has breathed new life into the group’s campaign All of Us or None.

(i_frontier/iStockphoto.)

(i_frontier/iStockphoto.)

“For him to say it was really important,” he says. “Some of us have been out here doing this work for 10 years trying to get a fair shake and a clean application.”

California banned the box for public-sector jobs in July 2014. San Francisco has banned it for all jobs in the city, public and private. To the north, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed that state’s “ban the box” legislation last week.

Nunn notes there are 70 million Americans with a criminal record who have a hard time even getting a job interview, which creates a permanent underclass disproportionately affecting people of color.

He says the focus in California is now on removing the question from housing, student aid and all private-sector job applications.

“The process would be a lot fairer,” he says. “I don’t think you can get to public safety through force and fear. I think it takes rehabilitation and forgiveness.”

The American Civil Liberties Union is currently circulating a petition on the issue, which requires 25,000 signatures to force a government response. It has received 21,700 signatures so far.

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