City officials in Richmond, Calif., have approved an ordinance that forbids employers from requiring applicants to reveal their criminal histories at any point during the application or hiring process. The vote that was passed by 6-1 is one of the nation’s most comprehensive “ban-the-box” ordinances, a reference to the criminal history box on job applications. The ordinance will take affect in September.
There are plenty of similar legislations that have passed across the country, but Richmond, CA took it one step further by not requiring applicants to disclose criminal histories at any point, including during the final rounds of interviews or after they’re hired.
“We’ve really taken it up a notch,” Councilwoman Jovanka Beckles, who introduced the ordinance, told The Huffington Post. “By introducing one of the most comprehensive plans in the country, our hope is to reduce unemployment in Richmond, reduce recidivism in Richmond and give these people who want to, a chance to make a change.”
Beckles noted that the ordinance is especially timely as California braces for the implementation of AB 109, a bill aimed at reducing prison overcrowding by releasing thousands of low-level inmates by the end of 2013.
“We’re going to have a lot of folks coming back from incarceration and looking for work here soon,” she said.
Beckles also noted that the ordinance does make exceptions for “sensitive” jobs, including positions working with children and the elderly or positions in law enforcement.
But not everyone is excited about the new ordinances spreading across the U.S.
“We have a responsibility to protect our customers, protect other employees and then the company itself,” Kelly Knott, senior director for government relations of the National Retail Federation, told The Wall Street Journal.