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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

California Moves to Ban The Box

criminal record
About a year ago, almost to the day, we wrote about an important subject relevant to people with a criminal record. Specifically, regarding one’s ability to find employment with a less than ideal criminal history. It is no secret that people with felonies in their past will not even be considered for hiring by employers in certain fields. In other words, getting one’s foot in the door to be considered for the job is more times than not impeded by the box that asks about criminal history. But not everywhere.

In 2013, a law was passed in California that prohibited public employers from asking about one’s record on the initial application. This gave applicants the ability to get a foot in the door for consideration, rather than being flatly denied an opportunity. Employers could then look at the nature of one’s crime to see if it would be a liability.

California Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, introduced, Assembly Bill 1008, a piece of legislation that would mandate such considerations for private employers as well, The Sacramento Bee reports. Both San Francisco and Los Angeles already have what are known as “ban the box” policies in place restricting private employers from discriminating on the initial application.

“This removes some of these arbitrary qualifiers,” McCarty said. “It does give people a chance to get their foot in the door.” 

As you can probably imagine, there are number of lawmakers and law experts who have their doubts about the value of "ban the box." They argue that such policies will cause employers to discriminate in other ways. Potentially causing them [employers] to guess who might have a criminal record, or have the unintended effect of employers giving opportunities based on race. Jennifer Doleac, an assistant professor at the University of Virginia’s Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy and Benjamin Hansen of the University of Oregon point out that black and Latino men are statistically more likely to have a recent conviction.

“Employers do seem to use race as a proxy for criminality,” Doleac said. “If they have a white man and a black man, they’ll be more likely to call the white guy every time.” 

Assemblyman McCarty contends that the cons for banning the box do not outweigh the pros. At the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower, we believe that this subject is important for both previous and future clients, we will continue to follow the progress of Assembly Bill 1008.

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