Fair Chance Act to Ban the Box for Federal Government Passes House of Representatives

Ban the Box

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On July 12, 2019, a bill authored by United States Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) called the Fair Chance Act that would “Ban the Box” and give formerly incarcerated individuals a better chance at finding employment was passed in the U.S. House of Representatives as part of a larger package related to military defense, according to a press release on Senator Booker’s website.

The Fair Chance Act was included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and this bipartisan bill prohibits the federal government and federal contractors from asking about the criminal history of job applicants before a conditional offer of employment is made while still allowing employers to determine an individual’s criminal history before they are hired. The Fair Chance Act would:

  • Prevent the federal government – including the executive, legislative, and judicial branches – from requesting criminal history information from applicants until they reach the conditional offer stage.
  • Prohibit federal contractors from requesting criminal history information from candidates for positions within the scope of federal contracts until the conditional offer stage.
  • Include important exceptions for positions related to law enforcement and national security duties, positions requiring access to classified information, and positions for which access to criminal history information before the conditional offer stage is required by law.
  • Require the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in coordination with the U.S. Census Bureau, to issue a report on the employment statistics of formerly incarcerated individuals.

“This legislation will remove the steep hurdles that deny individuals who have paid their debt to society from finding a job and allow them to have the dignity of work,” Senator Booker stated in the press release, while Senator Johnson stated that he would continue to work with his colleagues to pass legislation “that will help people leaving prison get back to work and turn their lives around.”

In the U.S. Senate, the Fair Chance Act passed out of the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in February 2019. The bill has cleared that Senate Committee each of the last three sessions of Congress and now awaits a vote before the full Senate. To read more blogs about Ban the Box from the ESR News Blog, please visit www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/tag/ban-the-box/.

Ban the Box is a growing nationwide movement that seeks to advance job opportunities for people with prior criminal convictions by eliminating any inquiry into the criminal history of candidates on job applications, specifically the checkbox that requires candidates to disclose their criminal history. As of July 2019, more than 150 cities and counties, as well as 34 states, have passed Ban the Box laws.

States with Ban the Box laws include Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global background check firm – offers employers a white paper about the growth of Ban the Box, a Ban the Box resource guide for states, counties, and cities, and a Ban the Box resource page the contains an interactive map updated with Ban the Box laws. To learn more, please visit www.esrcheck.com/Legislative-Compliance/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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