A “Ban the Box” bill approved by the Minnesota House – SF 523 – would prevent private employers in the state from asking about the criminal history of job applicants until an interview or a conditional job offer. The bill has now been presented to Governor Mark Dayton for his signature, according to a report from the Star Tribune available at http://www.startribune.com/politics/statelocal/206699841.html.
Sponsored by Representative Tim Mahoney (DFL-St. Paul), SF 523 would eliminate the box asking about criminal history on most job applications in the private sector. Mahoney told the Star Tribune that the bill “does not prohibit private employers from eventually conducting background checks and fully investigating the criminal past of potential employees” but “is designed to get applicants past the initial application stage, so that if they qualify for the job, they get a chance to explain themselves.”
The Star Tribune reports that SF 523 “extends the ‘ban-the-box’ policy that exists for public employers to private employers” in the state while also exempting “employers who are prohibited from hiring people with criminal records, such as child-care agencies and services that work with vulnerable adults.” The bill passed in the Senate on a 44-16 vote and in the House by a 107-26 vote. For more information about SF 523, visit https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/bill.php?b=House&f=SF0523&ssn=0&y=2013.
As previously reported on the ESR News blog, Maryland became the ninth U.S. state – joining Colorado, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Minnesota, and Hawaii – to join the “Ban the Box” movement with the signing Senate Bill 4 (SB 4) by Governor Martin O’Malley. SB 4 removes the criminal history question from state applications and defers the criminal background check to later in the hiring process. To read SB 4, visit http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2013RS/bills/sb/sb0004E.pdf.
A report from the National Employment Law Project (NELP) updated in April 2013 found no less than 50 cities and counties have adopted “Ban the Box” reforms. These cities include: Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; Cincinnati, OH; Cleveland, OH; Detroit, MI; Kansas City, MO; Minneapolis, MN; New York, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; San Francisco, CA; Seattle, WA; St. Paul, MN; and Washington, DC. The report is available at http://nelp.3cdn.net/495bf1d813cadb030d_qxm6b9zbt.pdf.
A March 2011 NELP study – ‘65 Million “Need Not Apply” – The Case for Reforming Criminal Background Checks for Employment’ – found more than one in four adults in the United States were estimated to have criminal records. Since employers use criminal background checks for screening, criminal records may cause applicants to be denied jobs even for arrests or minor convictions that occurred in the distant past. The study is available at http://nelp.3cdn.net/e9231d3aee1d058c9e_55im6wopc.pdf.
On April 25, 2012, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – the agency enforcing 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, which builds on longstanding court decisions and Guidance documents, is available at http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/guidance/arrest_conviction.cfm.
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