Kansas City Passes Ban the Box Ordinance to Remove Questions about Criminal Histories on Job Applications

The Kansas City Council has passed Ordinance 130230 – known as the “Ban the Box” ordinance – that will require the City Manager to remove questions regarding disclosure of past criminal records from job applications for employment with the city, according to an article on the Kansas City Business Journal website. The full article is available at http://www.bizjournals.com/kansascity/news/2013/04/05/kc-council-passes-ban-the-box.html.

Ordinance 130230 – the full text of which is available on the City of Kansas City website – directs the City Manager to amend the City’s employment application to eliminate the field requiring disclosure of past criminal records since people with criminal records suffer from pervasive discrimination in many areas of life, including employment. Kansas City seeks to assist with the successful reintegration of formerly incarcerated people into the community after their release and the lack of employment opportunities for people with criminal records is a principal factor for recidivism since people who are employed proving significantly less likely to be re-arrested.

The measure – sponsored by Councilman Jermaine Reed – estimates that there are approximately 9,000 residents in Kansas City currently on State or Federal Probation or Parole and thousands more who have successfully completed Probation/Parole Supervision and continue to be stigmatized by old criminal records. Every month the greater Kansas City area becomes home to approximately 350 ex-offenders newly released from state and federal prisons. Because of this, the Kansas City Council has ordained:

  • Section 1. That the City Manager shall revise the City’s employment application to eliminate the field requiring disclosure of past criminal records.
  • Section 2. That the City shall not inquire about an applicant’s criminal history until after it has been determined that the applicant is otherwise qualified for the position, and only after the applicant has been interviewed for the position. Such inquiry may be made of all applicants who are within the final selection pool of candidates from which a job will be filled.
  • Section 3. That the City shall not use or access the following criminal records in relation to a background check conducted for employment purposes: records of arrests not followed by a valid conviction; convictions which have been, pursuant to law, annulled or expunged, pleas of guilty without conviction; and misdemeanor convictions where no jail sentence can be imposed. For purposes of this ordinance a violation for which a person received a suspended imposition of sentence is not a conviction.
  • Section 4. That the City will make final employment-related decisions based on all of the information related to an applicant’s criminal history available to the City, including the nature and gravity of the offense or offenses, the time that has passed since the applicant’s conviction or release from incarceration, the nature of the job sought and its relevance to the offense, and all evidence of rehabilitation.
  • Section 5. That the City urges private employers to adopt fair hiring practices that encourage the rehabilitation of people with criminal records.

The “Ban the Box” movement is rapidly gaining popularity in the United States. A November 2012 Resource Guide from the National Employment Law Project (NELP) shows over 40 cities and counties nationwide – including Boston, Chicago, Detroit, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington DC – have removed the criminal history question on job applications. The Resource Guide is available at http://nelp.3cdn.net/f3a28d325b4b237428_00m6bk6qf.pdf.

In addition, an October 2012 Briefing Paper from NELP, an organization that focuses on issues affecting low-wage and unemployed workers, reports seven states – California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New Mexico – have adopted “Ban the Box” policies. The Briefing Paper is available at http://nelp.3cdn.net/1cd9469c4974603224_izm6b8pzw.pdf.

This growing trend of cities and states adopting “Ban the Box” policies removing the criminal history question from job applications is one of the ‘ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends for 2013’ chosen each year by Attorney Lester Rosen, Founder and CEO of Employment Screening Resources® (ESR). The full list of trends is available at http://www.esrcheck.com/Top-Ten-Background-Check-Trends-for-2013.php.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – ‘The Background Check Authority®’ – is a nationwide background screening provider accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®). For more information about background checks from ESR, visit http://www.esrcheck.com or call Toll Free 888.999.4474.

Sources:

http://www.bizjournals.com/kansascity/news/2013/04/05/kc-council-passes-ban-the-box.html

http://cityclerk.kcmo.org/liveweb/Documents/Document.aspx?q=1GacLjTrkbEstxBLwpToOZZ9ttTFatKgBEhJKwT6kCxOKxyyhr73qCjeENbqZoLK

http://cityclerk.kcmo.org/liveweb/Documents/ViewAttachment.aspx?q=m%2bk9yOf2Ihue9husexy99fXXYRTEIIVFKKY8TTZE27fqIZYdvDtZqIslPxLVU5QuGi%2f9jD5y0B3CIFyQs9ji1A%3d%3d

About Employment Screening Resources® (ESR):

Founded by safe hiring expert Attorney Les Rosen in 1997, Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – ‘The Background Check Authority®’– provides accurate and actionable information that empowers employers to make informed hiring decisions for the benefit of their organizations, employees, and the public. CEO Rosen literally wrote the book on background checks with “The Safe Hiring Manual” and ESR is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), a distinction held by a small percent of screening firms. Employers choosing ESR know they have selected an agency meeting the highest industry standards. To learn more about ESR, visit http://www.esrcheck.com or call toll free 888.999.4474.

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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. To subscribe to the ESR News Blog Feed, visit http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/feed/. To subscribe to the complimentary ESRcheck Report monthly newsletter, please visit http://www.esrcheck.com/Newsletter/.

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