Congress Introduces Bipartisan Ban the Box Legislation to Help Job Seekers with Criminal Records

 ban the box

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators and representatives have introduced “Ban the Box” legislation – the Fair Chance Act (S.842/H.R.1905) and the REDEEM Act (S.827/H.R.1906) – to ensure that job seekers who have a conviction record in their past are not unfairly shut out from federal employment and considered on their qualifications like other applicants, according to a news release from the National Employment Law Project (NELP).

NELP reports that the Fair Chance Act and the REDEEM (Record Expungement Designed to Enhance Employment) Act are modeled on Ban the Box reforms passed in 26 States and more than 150 cities and counties in the United States. The Ban the Box legislation will address the challenges facing the estimated 70 million adults in the U.S. with arrest or conviction records and ensure formerly incarcerated people have fair chance to work.

The Fair Chance Act is sponsored by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and co-sponsored by Senators Ron Johnson (R-WI), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Joni Ernst (R-IA). In the House, the bill is sponsored by Representatives Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and Darrell Issa (R-CA). The REDEEM Act is sponsored by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and co-sponsored by Senator Booker. In the House, the bill is sponsored by Representative Cummings.

“We applaud the sponsors of these strong bills for their leadership in forging a bipartisan consensus, which is what it will take for Congress to cross the finish line and enact fair-chance hiring legislation,” Maurice Emsellem, Director of NELP’s Access and Opportunity Program, stated in the news release. “These are federal reforms whose time has come, thanks to the grassroots movement that has taken hold across the states.”

“Ban the Box”  refers to removing the box on job applications that applicants must check if they have criminal records. Ban the Box supporters ask U.S. cities, counties, states, and the federal government to adopt hiring practices to reduce unfair barriers to employment for people with criminal records. Delaying the criminal history question until later in the hiring process helps ex-offenders be judged first on their knowledge, skills, and abilities.

“The Ban the Box movement is becoming a national standard that will soon affect all types and sizes of employers,” says Attorney Lester Rosen, founder and CEO of Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) and author of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual,’ a guide for background checks. “Since Ban the Box removes criminal history questions from initial job applications, the best practice for employers is to not ask about a criminal record until after the interview.”

More Ban the Box Information from ESR

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a global background check provider – supports sensible Ban the Box legislation and offers employers a Ban the Box Information Page with news and legal updates about states, cities and counties, and resources with Ban the Box. To view the ESR Ban the Box Information Page, visit www.esrcheck.com/Ban-the-Box/. To read ESR News blogs about Ban the Box, visit www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/tag/ban-the-box/.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

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