Detroit Ban the Box Ordinance Requires City Vendors and Contractors to Remove Criminal Record Question on Job Applications

Since a deadline date of July 1, 2012, in an effort to give ex-convicts a second chance for employment, a ‘Ban the Box’ ordinance in the City of Detroit has implemented a new hiring policy that requires business vendors and contractors to remove the criminal record question on job applications to qualify for future contracts. More information about the Detroit ‘Ban the Box’ ordinance is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpXAC96re84.

As previously reported in the ESR News blog ‘Ban the Box Coalition in Detroit Wants Criminal Convictions Question Removed for City Vendors and Contractors,’ members of the growing ‘Ban the Box’ Coalition – who had persuaded the Detroit City Council in September 2010 to bar the question on city employment applications asking candidates to check a box if they had any convictions – asked the City to extend the ban on inquiring about criminal records to city vendors and contractors.

In an effort to provide fair employment opportunities for ex-convicts, other cities across the country have joined the ‘Ban the Box’ movement. A resource guide from the National Employment Law Project (NELP) features a list of the cities banning the box like Detroit that includes: Baltimore, MD; Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; Cincinnati, OH; Hartford, CT; Jacksonville, FL; Minneapolis, MN; New Haven, CT; Oakland, CA; Philadelphia, PA; Providence, RI; San Francisco, CA; Seattle, WA; St. Paul, MN; and Washington, DC.

The use of criminal records by private sector employers has also come under recent scrutiny. On April 25, 2012, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – the agency that enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination – voted to approve updated Enforcement Guidance on the Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The updated EEOC guidance is available at http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/guidance/arrest_conviction.cfm

The EEOC guidance suggests that employers asking questions about criminal records should “limit inquiries to records for which exclusion would be job related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity.” To analyze criminal conduct, the EEOC suggests employers use the three so-called ‘Green factors’: the nature and gravity of the offense or conduct; the time that has passed since the offense, conduct and/or completion of the sentence; and the nature of the job held or sought.

“We are suggesting to private employers that they also consider a ‘ban the box’ approach,” says Attorney Lester Rosen, founder and CEO of San Francisco-area background check firm Employment Screening Resources (ESR).  “Asking about criminal records early in the hiring process serves as a knock-out punch before candidates have a chance to be considered on their qualifications, and unnecessarily exposes employers to allegations they are automatically tossing out applications with a criminal record.”

Rosen, author of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual,’ estimates that employers find at least 70 percent of all applicants do not qualify for a job based upon skills, education, or experience. “An employer is better served using good hiring techniques based upon neutral factors to whittle down the applicant pool,” he explains. “At some appropriate time when an employer has narrowed the field, an appropriate criminal question can be asked. Asking it early really does not accomplish that much.”

Rosen also says that when employers ask about a past criminal record, they “need to make an effort to not ask a broadly worded question that may encompass criminal records that are either too old or irrelevant for the job, since that can have the impact of imposing a lifetime ban on an applicant.”

For information about background checks, visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – ‘The Background Check Authority’ and nationwide background screening firm accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) – at http://www.esrcheck.com/, call 415.898.0044, or email customerservice@esrcheck.com.

Sources:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpXAC96re84
http://www.examiner.com/article/second-chance-criminal-record-question-removed-from-job-applications-detroit
http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/2011/03/10/ban-the-box-coalition-in-detroit-wants-criminal-convictions-question-removed-for-city-vendors-and-contractors/
http://www.nelp.org/page/-/SCLP/2010/BantheBoxcurrent.pdf?nocdn=1
http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/2012/01/10/criminal-background-checks-of-job-applicants-by-employers-coming-under-greater-scrutiny-by-eeoc/
http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/guidance/arrest_conviction.cfm

About Employment Screening Resources (ESR):

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – ‘The Background Check AuthoritySM’– provides accurate and actionable information, empowering employers to make informed safe hiring decisions for the benefit for our clients, their employees, and the public. ESR literally wrote the book on background screening with “The Safe Hiring Manual” by Founder and CEO Lester Rosen. ESR is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), a distinction held by a small percentage of screening firms. By choosing an accredited screening firm like ESR, employers know they have selected an agency that meets the highest industry standards. For more information about Employment Screening Resources (ESR), visit http://www.esrcheck.com/, call 415.898.0044 or 888.999.4474 (Toll Free), or email customerservice@esrcheck.com.

About ESR News:

The Employment Screening Resources (ESR) News blog – ESR News – provides employment screening information for employers, recruiters, and jobseekers on a variety of topics including credit reports, criminal records, data privacy, discrimination, E-Verify, jobs reports, legal updates, negligent hiring, workplace violence, and use of search engines and social network sites for background checks. For more information about ESR News or to send comments or questions, please email ESR News Editor Thomas Ahearn at tahearn@esrcheck.com.