On November 30th, 2016, the Los Angeles City Council passed the Fair Chance Initiative prohibiting most employers from inquiring about applicants’ criminal histories until a position at the company has been offered. The notion was approved by a 12-1 vote, making Los Angeles another of many to instill this new law.
The city’s ordinance will apply to all employers who have at least 10 or more employees on staff, with the exception of careers in fields like law enforcement and child care. The decision was made to join a growing movement in helping those with criminal records find suitable employment despite their pasts. There are now 24 states with over 150 cities who have adopted this bill.
The Fair Chance Initiative was started by the Los Angeles based organizations Homeboy Industries and All of Us or None. Both groups provide support to previously incarcerated persons, fighting for their rights to rejoin the workforce in the United States; a very applicable stance to the ‘ban the box’ law. According to the National Employment Law Project, a 2011 study discovered that reentering 100 formerly incarcerated people back in the working world would increase their lifetime earnings by $55 million. This would also save $2 million annually be keeping these employees out of the criminal justice system.
However, as mentioned in a previous blog of ours, these policies bring forth the risk of increasing discrimination, as employers who are not legally allowed to research an applicant’s criminal history may consider denying him or her because of ethnicity a loophole. This fallback on stereotyping can have an adverse affect on those seeking jobs following incarceration, but the question of morality remains. Implementing the ‘ban the box’ law has led to a large increase in the hiring of those with criminal records despite these claims.
Now that Los Angeles has joined many cities around the country in this movement, the City’s Office of Wage Standards is expected to enforce this ordinance. If any violation of the new bill is reported, the applicant filing the report may receive up to $500, so long as the allegations are upheld.
For more information on the rising ‘ban the box’ movement, visit the National Employment Law Project’s guide here.