A story in The Detroit News reports that members of the growing ‘Ban the Box’ Coalition, who persuaded the Detroit City Council to bar the question asking applicants about their criminal histories – and check a box if they have any convictions – from employment applications last year, have asked to extend the ban on inquiring about felony convictions on applications to city vendors and contractors.

In September 2010, the City Council unanimously approved removing “the box” on city employment applications that job applicants must check if they have criminal histories, according to The Detroit News. While the current proposal would extend the practice for companies doing work for Detroit, the hiring process for the city would still run criminal background checks but remove them as initial background screening, The Detroit News reports.

The Detroit City Council is asking for a report – which expected to be issued in two weeks – from the law department on the “ban the box” issue before introducing a draft of the ordinance for the ban on inquiring about felony convictions on applications to city vendors and contractors, according to The Detroit News.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – the agency of the U.S. Government that enforces the federal employment discrimination laws –makes it clear that the automatic policy or practice of excluding job applicants from employment on the basis of their criminal conviction records has an adverse and discriminatory impact by disqualifying a disproportionate number of members of minority groups.

According to the EEOC, a policy or practice that automatically excludes job applicants with criminal pasts is unlawful under Title VII (the Equal Employment Opportunity law) in the absence of a justifying “business necessity”  that considers the following 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 and safe hiring expert Lester Rosen, author of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual – The Complete Guide to Keeping Criminals, Terrorists, and Imposters Out of Your Workplace’ and founder and President of San Francisco Bay, CA-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’ at http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/tag/criminal-records/ and visit the Employment Screening Resources (ESR) website at http://www.ESRcheck.com.

Founded in 1996 in the San Francisco, CA area with a mission to help both employers and employees maintain safe workplaces, 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). For more information about Employment Screening Resources (ESR), please visit http://www.ESRcheck.com or email ESR News Editor Thomas Ahearn at [email protected].