Employment expert weighs in on the Fair Chance Act
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti just approved a “Ban the Box” measure, meaning that businesses in L.A. will be partially restricted when it comes to discovering employees’ criminal backgrounds.
Currently, 92 percent of employers require applicants to reveal whether they have a criminal background. However, a new social justice movement is gaining momentum as it is asking employers to “ban the box” and remove questions about past criminal behavior from applications.
“Known as the ‘Ban the Box’ movement or the Fair Chance Act, this civil rights issue is gaining steam,” says Rob Wilson, President of Employco USA, “Target ‘banned the box’ in 2013, and President Obama asked federal agencies to ‘ban the box’ as well. The idea is that stiffer sentencing and drug crimes has greatly increased the number of people with criminal records, and in turn this criminal record makes it difficult for them to find work.”
However, not everyone is pleased with the Fair Chance Act. “In the wake of workplace violence tragedies, the idea of ditching criminal background questions seems circumspect to many people. It is estimated that 1.7 million people are injured each year as a result of workplace violence, and critics fear that banning the box will only make this number higher,” says Wilson.
The employment expert explains that banning the box doesn’t mean that employers have no rights when it comes to establishing a person’s character and mental health. “In most states, you can do a criminal background check on your applicant after a tentative offer has been made,” says Wilson. “But instead of banning people outright, you will have time to interview them and find out who they really are, rather than be dissuaded by a checked box that won’t tell you the whole story.”
However, Wilson believes banning the box could potentially give rise to a host of issues.
“Possible safety concerns are only the beginning. Not only do criminal background laws vary from state to state, but they even vary from city to city. Employers will have much more legwork when it comes to staying on top of changing legislation, and they will also have to grapple with potential litigation and penalties. This is why many employers will likely opt to outsource their hiring to employment firms, as it will be more cost-effective and it will remove the legal headaches.”
For more on this topic, please contact Rob Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.