A Special Report on KTVU-TV Channel 2 News in San Francisco – ‘Ex-Felons Face Tough Road In Difficult Job Market’ – features a group pushing to “Ban the Box” that ex-offenders must check on job applications to disclose their criminal pasts to employers.

In the KTVU story, a truck driver – an ex-felon who served nine years in prison – believes the reason he cannot get an interview though he has applied for 80 jobs is because of the “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” question on job applications and claims that disclosing his felony conviction gives employers an excuse to ignore him.

The report cites studies showing a link between employment and reduced recidivism rates for ex-felons, and advocates for ex-felons say six states and 26 cities and counties nationwide have “banned the box” for the felony question on public job applications.

A spokesperson for ‘All of Us Or None,’ a nationwide group of former prisoners fighting discrimination against ex-offenders, said that if ex-felons re-entering society and trying to find a job in an already tight employment market “can’t feed their families, cannot pay their rent, then some of them are going to go back to trying make money through criminal activity.”

Roughly five years ago, San Francisco “banned the box” on city and county job applications, KTVU reports, and conviction history is only relevant if the applicant is a finalist for a position. Ex-felons are still not eligible for employment in public safety jobs.

The position of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on the use of criminal records in employment decisions makes it clear that the automatic policy or practice of excluding job applicants from employment on the basis of their conviction records has an adverse and discriminatory impact by disqualifying a disproportionate number of members of minority groups and such a policy or practice is unlawful under Title VII (the Equal Employment Opportunity law) in the absence of a justifying “business necessity”  which takes into consideration the following three factors:

  • The nature and gravity of the offense or offenses,
  • The time that has passed since the conviction and/or completion of the sentence, and,
  • The nature of the job held or sought.

According to Attorney Lester Rosen, author of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual – The Complete Guide to Keeping Criminals, Terrorists, and Imposters Out of Your Workplace’ and founder of San Francisco Bay-area background check provider Employment Screening Resources (ESR):

“An employer cannot simply say, ‘No one with a criminal record need apply.’ That statistically could end up having an unfair impact on certain groups. Instead, if an applicant has a criminal record, the employer must determine if there is a rational, job-related reason why that person is unfit for that job.  In other words, an employer must show that the consideration of the applicant’s criminal record is job-related and consistent with business necessity.”

For more information on the use of criminal records in background checks, read the ESR News articles tagged ‘criminal records’ and visit the Employment Screening Resources (ESR) website at http://www.ESRcheck.com.

Founded in 1996 in the San Francisco area, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) wrote the book on background checks with ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by ESR founder and President Lester Rosen and is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) . To learn more about Employment Screening Resources, visit http://www.ESRcheck.com or contact Jared Callahan, ESR Director of Client Relations, at 415.898.0044 or [email protected].