Job Applications: Criminal Record Question Could Be Banned

Report: "Ban the Box" movement growing in momentum and impacting hiring

It’s hard enough looking for a job these days, especially with the latest statistics for African American unemployment rate at 11.4%.

The under-employed figure is way higher, which is where you’ll find the majority of ex-convicts. And if you committed a crime and got convicted, it’s even more of a challenge to just get your foot in the door.

If you’ve paid your debt to society, shouldn’t you be afforded the same shot at employment as everyone else? That’s what the “Ban the Box” legislation is all about and some states have begun jumping on board and it could be a lifeline for convicted felons who just want to get on with their lives. The goal of the campaign is to get employers to get rid of the question on employment applications that asks whether a candidate has been convicted of a crime.

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After all, shouldn’t people be judged based on what they can bring to the table and not something buried in their past? Sure, some prior convictions deserve scrutiny, but the the sheer disproportionate number of African Americans who have spent time behind bars compared with other races puts blacks at an overwhelming disadvantage.

According to Business News Daily, the Ban the Box campaign was “started in 2004 by All of US or None, a national civil rights movement of formerly incarcerated people and their families. The campaign was launched after a series of meetings that identified job and housing discrimination as huge barriers to convicted criminals’ successful return to their communities after serving time in jail or prison.”

The Business News Daily article notes that while some form of Ban the Box legislation has been enacted in 12 states for public employers, it is quickly expanding to private businesses, with five states now reportedly having the laws apply to those employers.

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The National Federation of Independent Businesses, however, doesn’t believe “Ban the Box” is good policy for all businesses and shouldn’t be applied with a one size fits all mentality. The organization represents 350,000 small businesses and argue that small businesses do not have the time and manpower to dedicate to screening all potential hires. Finding out later that a new hire has a criminal history that later disqualifies them from the job can cost them. Wasted time can be wasted money for small enterprises.

A study conducted in April by the NFIB, shows 88% of Michigan small business owners were opposed to the state’s “Ban the Box” proposal.

What do you think about ‘Ban the Box’? Leave your opinions in the comment area below.

  • Mia

    But if you find out later that this person has a history but they are fully functional and assisting the business in a positive and profitable way then why does their past matter ? Why would you fire them just because you now dont like something in their past? How does their past affect your future with that person ? Why can you not use current patterns in their position to justify them staying employed with your company. And why cant you give them a trial period in order to justify themselves as having done no activity to relate to their criminal history if it directly affects your business? If you can answer that then I can justify not putting it on there.

  • Jeri Smith

    Sure, there are certain jobs that individuals convicted of certain crimes would not be suitable for. For example, individuals convicted of a sexual crime against minors probably wouldn’t be well suited for a job working with children. And one convicted of embezzlement wouldn’t be well suited for a job in a financial institution. But what keeps most convicted felons from working a regular job, like in a retail store? It seems as though the rules keep convicted felons trapped in a box that is difficult to escape from. How can they make a new life, a new start without a second chance? Some may be tempted to return to the lifestyle that landed them in prison to begin with – an ugly cycle. As the article states, minorities, especially African Americans are disproportionately represented in prison. So they are the ones (and their families) who suffer. I believe this should be reconsidered – soon. It’s a civil rights issue of sorts.

  • Notisme2014

    I am personally being affected by this because I have a 2003 simple assault charge on my record. Never been in trouble before or after the charge. I am having the hardest time obtaining employment. I always check the box, and explain. I have not had an interview in over a year. I have received a couple of job offers for minimum wage jobs. I have student loans, a family, and my husband have been holding onto a physically demanding job that he can not keep doing because of his health. I need a second chance.

  • Jasmine

    I think that it should be banned, simply because I got wrongfully convicted when I was 18 the police searched everyone outside the homeroom and put everything back in the hotel. The lawyer’s that I had wasn’t even trying to help me understand the law. Now it’s hard for me to find a job because of the background I have.