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Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

More than 70 members of the U.S. House of Representatives have sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to “Ban the Box” on job applications and adopt a federal fair chance hiring policy at the federal level, according to a press release on the website of Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13), one of the co-leaders of this Ban the Box effort.

The letter dated May 21, 2015 asked President Obama to Ban the Box and “require that federal contractors and agencies refrain from asking job applicants to report their criminal history at the initial stages of the hiring process.” The letter also states employers “would retain the ability to inquire about past convictions or conduct background checks regarding a potential employee before making an employment decision.”

“The federal government should not be in the business of erecting barriers between those who have made a mistake and are looking a job,” Congresswoman Lee stated in the press release. “By enacting these basic ‘fair chance’ hiring reforms, the federal government will continue to lead as a model employer while working to end the cycle of mass incarceration, unemployment and recidivism.”

The letter also urged Obama to build on the efforts of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforcement guidance issued in March 2012 that encouraged employers to consider targeted screening and individualized assessment in order to prevent the exclusion of qualified applicants with criminal records. Ban the Box policies are consistent with that EEOC guidance.

The letter concluded: “We urge you to build on your administration’s commitment to adopting fair change hiring reforms by committing the federal government to do its part to eliminate unnecessary barriers to employment for people with criminal records.” A copy of the letter is available at

According to a Ban the Box State and Local Guide from the National Employment Law Project (NELP), 17 states and more than 100 cities and counties have taken steps to remove barriers to employment for qualified workers with records. In addition, six states, the District of Columbia, and eleven cities and counties have extended their Ban the Box policies to local private employers.

More Ban the Box Information from ESR

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – ‘The Background Check Authority®’ – offers a Ban the Box Information Page with links to the latest news and resources about the Ban the Box movement. The Ban the Box page is at For more information about background checks services from ESR, please call toll free 888.999.4474 or visit

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