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Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

Members of Congress have introduced bipartisan legislation – The Fair Chance Act – that would “Ban the Box” and give ex-offenders a fair chance at finding employment by prohibiting federal contractors and federal agencies from asking about the criminal history of a job applicant until a conditional offer of employment is received, according to a press release on the website of U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ).

“There are millions of Americans with records who are quickly passed over by employers without considering their skills or qualifications because of their history,” Senator Booker stated in the press release. “The Fair Chance Act seeks to dismantle this unfair barrier in federal hiring to ensure these Americans are given a second chance and a fairer shot at making a better life for themselves.”

Ban the Box is a nationwide campaign by civil rights groups aimed at persuading employers to remove the check box that asks if applicants have a criminal record from their hiring applications. The Fair Chance Act would bring the Ban the Box initiative to the federal hiring process. Currently, federal law does not prevent federal employers from asking about criminal history at any stage of a job interview.

The Fair Chance Act would:

  • Ban 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; and
  • Require the Department of Labor, U.S. Census Bureau, and Bureau of Justice Statistics to issue a report on the employment statistics of formerly incarcerated individuals.

Senator Booker was joined by U.S. Senators Ron Johnson (R-WI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Joni Ernst (R-IA), and Representatives Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), Darrell Issa (R-CA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Cedric Richmond (D-LA), John Conyers (D-MI), and Bobby Scott (D-VA) in introducing the Ban the Box legislation.

The Ban the Box movement is spreading rapidly across the United States. Currently, eighteen states and more than 100 cities and counties have implemented Ban the Box policies to help people with criminal records overcome this barrier to employment. In addition, companies such as Walmart, Koch Industries, Target, Starbucks, Home Depot, and Bed, Bath & Beyond have joined the Ban the Box movement.

More Ban the Box Information from ESR

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – “The Background Check Authority®” – is a nationwide background check firm accredited by the National Association of Professional background Screeners (NABS). ESR offers employers a complimentary Ban the Box Information Page with links to news, resources, and legislation about the Ban the Box movement at

© 2015 Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – Making copies or using of any part of the ESR News Blog or ESR website for any purpose other than your own personal use is prohibited unless written authorization is first obtained from ESR.


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