Target has stepped up in a way that will be extremely transformative for individuals being released from prison and hoping to reenter society on the right foot.
The retail giant plans to stop asking prospective employees about their criminal records in job applications at its stores, a Target spokesperson told the Huffington Post.
Grassroots advocacy group TakeAction Minnesota has heavily pressured the store to drop questioning in regards to criminal backgrounds giant to do so for some time as part of a greater “Ban the Box” movement. The movement gained strength last year when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission clarified that potential employees should not be turned down solely on prior convictions. According to the National Employment Law Project (NELP), more than 50 cities in the U.S. and ten states have passed “Ban the Box” laws, which make it illegal for state employers to ask about a job applicant’s criminal history until they have been selected for an interview.
“Target is an industry leader in developing a nuanced criminal background check process that gives qualified applicants with a criminal history a second chance while maintaining the safety of our guests, team members and protecting our property,” Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder said in a statement.
Target’s announcement occurred months after Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton agreed to sign “Ban the Box” legislation in his state.
NELP’s executive director Christine Owens hopes that other companies will follow the example that Target has set.
“Target is finally doing the right thing by reforming its hiring policies so that qualified job applicants aren’t automatically screened out simply because they have an arrest or conviction from the past,” Owens told the Huffington Post. “Other large retailers around the nation need to follow suit, because their hiring policies send a strong message about whether they are committed to the communities that support their business.”
In addition to the application change, the retailer hopes to boost hiring of former convicts and plans to donate $100,000 to the Minnesota-based Council on Crime and Justice.