On November 2, Black PR Wire reported that the Tamarac City Commission unanimously passed a motion to “Ban the Box,” an initiative which, according to the National Employment Law Project, “requires that employers consider a job candidate’s qualifications first—without the stigma of a conviction or arrest record…these policies provide applicants a fair chance at employment by removing conviction and arrest history questions from job applications and delaying background checks until later in the hiring process.”
To date, 36 states and over 150 cities have instituted “Ban the Box,” a policy that gives those with a criminal background a second chance.
A Fair Chance
According to a story posted by Black PR Wire, in December 2019, the “Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Act of 2019” became law as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. Effective December 2021, the law will prohibit most federal agencies and contractors from requesting information on a job applicant’s arrest and conviction record until after conditionally offering the job to the applicant.”
“Ban the Box” initiatives do not bar the employer from asking about prior convictions; it shifts those questions to later in the interview process, to give qualified employees a “fair chance” at being hired. The National Employment Law Project’s fact sheet notes that “A fair -chance policy has a real impact. Research indicates that once an employer has had the chance to examine the qualifications of the applicant, the employer would be more willing to hire the applicant.”
Beyond Municipal Hiring
Tamarac District 2 Commissioner Mike Gelin, quoted in the story, wants Tamarac’s version to extend beyond city hires. “As a City, we can only hire so many people, so I wanted our provision to apply to the vendors/contractors as well to ensure a wider impact,” he noted. Tamarac’s ordinance extends “Ban the Box” to city contractors.
Elizabeth McLean, writing for Goodhire, notes that for most of the 36 states with Ban the Box regulations cover public-sector jobs; “however, 13 states have mandated removal of any conviction history questions from job applications for private employers. Also, there are several private-sector employers, including Starbucks, Facebook, Walmart, and Target, that have adopted ban-the-box policies before being mandated to do so.”
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