Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Federal Lawmakers Push for The Fair Chance Act

In an effort to help avert the stigmatism associated with having a criminal record when applying for jobs, a bipartisan group of federal lawmakers late last week introduced legislation, The Fair Chance Act, that prohibits federal agencies and contractors from asking about the criminal history of a job applicant until after a conditional offer is made.

People who may have checked Twitter the last several days may have seen #banthebox, which refers to the Fair Chance Act and refers to applications where applicants must check on an application whether they have a criminal record.  According to statistics, at least 70 million Americans have to check such a box.  Furthermore, men who report convictions are 50 percent less likely to receive a callback or job offer, with the rate being even higher for African-American men, cited Elijah Cummings (D-Md), one of the sponsors of the legislation. 

From The Huffington Post article on the bill:
The bill bars federal agencies from asking about a person's criminal history before a conditional job offer is made, with some exceptions, such as for law enforcement. Agencies would be prohibited from asking people bidding for government contracts to disclose their criminal records in advance of an award decision. Government contractors would, in turn, be subject to similar requirements. 
It is important to note that this bill only covers federal agencies and contractors and would not apply to private sector employers.  Thus, unless the specific state you reside in already "bans the box," then your criminal history is fair game before a conditional offer of employment is made.

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