Ban the Box Bill Called Fair Chance Act Passes U.S. House of Representatives

Ban the Box

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On December 11, 2019, a “Ban the Box” bill called The Fair Chance Act that would give ex-offenders a better chance to find employment passed the U.S. House of Representatives as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020 and will now be considered by the full Senate.

“Each year, approximately 650,000 people are released from prison and 9 million from jails and we must remove the barriers they face when job-searching to give them the hope of a second chance,” Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), who authored the bill with Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), stated in a press release.

The Fair Chance Act would give ex-offenders a better chance to find employment by prohibiting the federal government and federal contractors from asking about the criminal history of a job applicant prior to the extension of a conditional offer of employment. The Ban the Box bill would also:

  • 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.

Criminal records reduce the chance of a callback or job offer by nearly 50 percent for men in general, while African-American men with criminal records have been 60 percent less likely to receive a callback or job offer than those without criminal records, according to the press release.

The Fair Chance Act was endorsed by American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), American Conservative Union, FreedomWorks, Justice Action Network, JustLeadershipUSA, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, National Employment Law Project, R Street Institute, and Safer Foundation.

Ban the Box is a growing nationwide movement that seeks to advance job opportunities for applicants with criminal records by eliminating any inquiry into the criminal history on initial job applications. As of December 2019, 35 states and more than 150 cities and counties have adopted Ban the Box laws.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global background check provider – provides a Ban the Box Resource Page that contains complimentary white papers, infographics, and an interactive map updated with the latest laws at 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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