House bill would bar employers from asking job applicants about criminal convictions until after conditional job offer
Under legislation introduced last week in the U.S. House of Representatives, employers would be barred from asking job applicants whether they have ever been convicted of a crime until after a conditional job offer has been made. Introduced by Representative Hansen Clarke (D-Mich), the Ban the Box Act (H.R. 6220) is intended to stem recidivism that can stem from convicts’ inability to get work after their sentence has ended.
The bill would make it unlawful for employers to ask job applicants whether they have ever been convicted of a crime. The bill would allow for such inquiries once a conditional offer of employment has been extended or if the “granting of employment” could pose an “unreasonable risk to the safety of specific individuals or to the general public.” The measure requires the U.S. EEOC to issue rules, within one year of enactment, defining the employment categories in which an individual’s criminal history could pose such a risk. The EEOC would also be required to issue rules defining the factors that employers would be allowed to consider in determining whether criminal history poses an unreasonable risk.
Job applicants who were unlawfully asked about their criminal history would be able to avail themselves of the same rights and remedies offered to them under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
In announcing the bill, Clarke asserted that “[c]urrent conviction record screening practices for employment … lead to many applicants being rejected … even if they have only committed a misdemeanor unrelated to the job.” According to Clarke, these rejections often lead to “increased recidivism as people with conviction records who cannot find jobs are far more likely to commit additional crimes.”
Source: WKL&B Editorial Staff