Shelby County TN Votes to “Ban the Box” on Applications for Government Jobs

Ban the Box

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On July 27, 2020, the Shelby County Commission voted unanimously to “Ban the Box” on job applications that asks applicants who are ex-offenders about their arrest or conviction histories when applying for jobs with the government in Shelby County, Tennessee, according to a report from the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Shelby County will be able to conduct background checks only “after a contingent offer of employment has been given to an applicant,” the Commercial Appeal reported. Exceptions to the Ban the Box ordinance include if the criminal history question is “substantially related to potential job duties” or required by state or federal law.

“Criminal history may not prevent employment if the applicant can show evidence of mitigation or rehabilitation and present fitness to perform the duties of the position sought,” the Commercial Appeal reported, noting the Ban the Box ordinance follows recommendations from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The EEOC guidance on the consideration of criminal records recommends delaying inquiry into a job applicant’s conviction history, considering whether the conviction is related to the job, and taking into account how long it has been since the conviction to comply with federal anti-discrimination law, the Commercial Appeal reported.

The EEOC guidance also recommends “providing an individualized assessment affording the opportunity to correct any inaccuracies and to submit evidence of mitigation or rehabilitation,” according to the Ban the Box ordinance, which encourages the county to consider vendors choosing to Ban the Box on job applications.

The Ban the Box movement advances employment opportunities for people with prior criminal records by eliminating the criminal history question on job applications. As of July 2020, 35 U.S. states and more than 150 cities and counties have passed Ban the Box laws, according to the National Employment Law Project (NELP).

Ban the Box laws and second chance programs that give job applicants with a prior criminal record a chance to find work are spreading rapidly in the U.S., according to the “ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends” for 2020 that was compiled by leading global background check provider Employment Screening Resources® (ESR).

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) offers a complimentary white paper titled “Ten Critical Steps for Ex-Offenders to Get Back into the Workforce” and also a Ban the Box Resource Page that contains an interactive map updated with the latest Ban the Box laws. To learn more about ESR, visit www.esrcheck.com.

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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