As a way to help ex-felons obtain jobs, avoid relapse, and allow successful integration back into the job market, the city of Los Angeles, CA is considering a proposed law that will bar employers from asking applicants for their criminal history on applications. Similar legislation has been passed in more than 50 cities and states, such as Boston and Oakland. The reason behind the legislation is to encourage employers to make their decisions based on work history, skills, and the applicant’s personality before the initial background check reveals their criminal history. Doing this allows employers not to become subjected to preconceived notions from the results of criminal background screening and verification services. Prejudgment can deter a potential employer from allowing the applicant to gain the interview which may have swayed their decision. Many employers will not consider hiring an applicant that has marked the convicted of a felony box on their application. This is why many individuals are adamant about bringing this legislation to light; partially because it helps in the rehabilitation process of convicts reentering society.
“Ban the box” helps ex-offenders gain a fair employment process, which will allow the offenders to showcase their talents first before they are ridiculed about their past mistakes through criminal background screening and verification services. By allowing this process to take place it will motivate the post-offenders to avoid the lifestyle in which they have been accustomed to. “Ban the box” legislation does not mean employers are not allowed to conduct background checks on potential employees. It simply asks the avoidance of the question which can be detrimental to the applicants interview process; however, an employer can ask the question when they are potentially going to offer the position.
The legislation does not say that an employer cannot conduct a full background check. “Ban the box” was created for the ex-convicts to be able to showcase their rehabilitated self and how they can be an asset to the community. It is important for businesses to conduct background checks on new hires due to the potential liability of a negligent hiring claim.
The “ban the box” legislation has been criticized by various groups such as the National Retail Federation (NRF) implying that the new law puts employees, companies, and customers in potential harm. “Ban the box” has also received backlash from The New Jersey Chamber Of Commerce who feel the law will leave employers exposed to lawsuits from applicants. Employers who do consider on taking on a former ex-con should determine whether the crime will directly affect the way in which they are able to perform the job or if the offense potentially cause a hazardous environment.