With a hit Netflix series dealing with life in prison under her belt, Orange is the New Black’s author Piper Kerman has offered her support to a New York City bill called the “Fair Chance Act.” The bill will restrict the use of criminal records in hiring and will give those who have been incarcerated a fair chance to go through job screening. Kerman’s point is that those who have paid their debt to society are expected to get a job when returning home from prison, and they face an extreme amount of barriers when trying to find jobs. This is just one example of a city that is joining the Ban the Box movement.
What is Ban the Box?
Ban the Box is a movement started by a national civil rights movement called All of Us or None. It started in 2004 to end discrimination against those who have been in jail or prison and are returning to society. Applications for jobs, housing, college admission, loans, and many other services contain questions about previous incarceration and arrest. By removing those questions, organizations are seeking to end the cycle of discrimination, especially to people of color, who are disproportionately arrested, convicted, and incarcerated.
What is the latest news about Ban the Box?
Over 45 cities and counties have changed hiring practices in public employment to reduce discrimination based on arrest or conviction records and have removed the question regarding conviction history from their employment applications. Private employers and, most recently, non-profit employers are following suit and voluntarily adopting the same policy.
What steps can I take?
To ensure that your organization is not discriminating against people with conviction histories, you can implement the following changes:
- Remove any question relating to conviction history from your job application, unless a background check is required by statute
- Postpone background checks until a finalist candidate has been selected
- Consider any convictions directly related to the responsibilities of the position
- Do an individualized assessment to determine if circumstances connected to a prior conviction will be repeated
- Allow the finalist to explain the circumstances of the conviction, and to offer evidence of rehabilitation
Is there liability?
Negligent hiring lawsuits are extremely rare. Even though many employers state that such a liability is the reason for conducting a background check, an employer will be protected against any negligent hiring lawsuit if:
- A written application was used
- Work and personal references were checked
- An interview was conducted
What is the benefit?
Employers who include people past convictions among staff, Board, and volunteers will benefit in the following ways:
- Bigger candidate pool
- More diversity in the workplace
- Improved service quality
Coping with the Downside
Many employers worry about pushing background checks into the end stages of the hiring process. It is true that if a serious offense if revealed through a background check that would disqualify the candidate from employment, the cost-per-hire might be affected. The other concern is that a second or third choice applicant might have found another position by then. One solution for employers struggling with ban the box impositions is to use a third party background screening provider. Professional background screening providers have the technology and expertise to quickly turnaround background checks.
Kwantek can help
With the Kwantek solution, your applicants fill out the employment application you provide. If you would like to make any changes to your application, we can add or remove any questions quickly and easily. Since our customized Operating Style Assessment is included in every candidate’s online application, you will be able to determine the most responsive candidates in that pool with real time and unbiased results. Once you have the finalists selected, you can then use our criminal records searches to quickly see if there will be a correlation to the position, and to decide if you’d like to give that applicant a life-changing opportunity.