National Employment Law Project (NELP) (New York, NY)
The exclusion of individuals with criminal records from employment is examined. People working with soon to be released prisoners or ex-offenders should be aware of this issue. The ability to find gainful employment, one of the critical needs for successful reentry, will be critically impacted by the sometimes unnecessary checking of criminal histories. Six sections are contained in this report: introduction; shutting workers with criminal records out of the job market compromises the economy and public safety; over broad hiring restrictions run afoul of federal laws regulating criminal background checks for employment; wave of lawsuits documents routine civil rights and consumer protection violations; Craigslist survey reveals flagrant abuses by the nation’s largest companies; and recommendations.
"A record creates a serious barrier to employment for millions of workers, especially in communities of color hardest hit by decades of over-criminalization. Fair-chance hiring policies are intended to help dismantle this employment barrier by ensuring that job applicants with records are assessed on their merits, rather than on negative stereotypes associated with having a record" (p. 1). This publication explains how delaying the inquiry of criminal conviction after providing a conditional job offer is good for the employer. Sections of this document include: introduction; snapshot of key fair-chance hiring best practices; the benefits of delaying conviction inquiries until a conditional job offer—cost-effectiveness for employers, maintaining public safety, minimizing the influence of negative stereotypes in hiring, increasing clarity in decision-making, effective enforcement, and consistent with federal hiring best practices; and conclusion.
'At the same time that the numbers of workers with criminal records have risen, the background check industry has expanded and overall, more employers are now using background checks as an employment screen than ever before. This resource guide documents the cities and counties that have recognized the devastating impact of these trends and taken steps to remove barriers to employment for qualified workers with criminal records, specifically by removing conviction history questions from job applications a reform commonly known as 'ban the box' ' The guide [also] provides key information for local officials and advocates to initiate reforms in their communities, including contact information, media, and campaign material links' (p. 1-2). Municipalities are listed according to city hiring policies and county hiring policies. Additional resources you may find useful, such as reports, presentations, media coverage, campaign materials in video or print formats, and technical assistance, are likewise noted. There is also the 'Summary of Highlights of Local Ban the Box Policies'.
This is a great update on what is happening in the United States regarding Ban the Box initiatives. Correctional reformers, offender advocates, and probation officers should be aware of this movement. “Nationwide, over 50 cities and counties—including New York City—have now taken the critical step of removing unfair barriers to employment in their hiring policies. Widely known as “ban the box,” these initiatives typically remove the question on the job application about an individual’s conviction history and delay the background check inquiry until later in the hiring process … In an era of extreme mass incarceration, ban-the-box campaigns provide a platform to educate the public about the stigma of a criminal record and the real consequences to our society of depriving millions of Americans with past convictions of economic stability” (p. 2). Sections of this brief cover: the ten states that have embraced statewide ban the box; current state policies; legislation introduced in 2013; and related fair hiring standards—laws prohibiting discrimination based on a criminal record.