Tar Heel State Considers Ban-the-Box Policies
“Ban-the-box” legislation is currently gaining momentum in North Carolina. If passed, House Bill 233 would require public employers to delay, but not prevent, inquiry into a person’s criminal history, which would give them a better chance for employment. The bill has been introduced with bipartisan support. This bill does not force employers to hire a convicted criminal, but it would allow them at least a chance at employment.
Ban-the-box is an important measure that can help those with criminal records find employment. HB 233 would remove the box that indicates if someone has a criminal record during the initial application process. This legislation would require that any state employer or local political subdivision of the state delay asking about an applicant’s criminal record until the employer has made a conditional offer of employment. After the initial application process, the employer can collect information pertaining to the level and seriousness of the offense, the date of the crime, the age at which the person was convicted, and other information pertaining to the degree of rehabilitation the person completed. Also, it is important to note that this ban does not extend to the private sector and is therefore not a mandate. However, some companies like Target, Home Depot and Koch Industries have decided on their own not to inquire about an applicant’s criminal history on their initial job application.
If a pre-existing law requires a hiring authority to perform a background check, then this should still remain in place. Agencies that hire law enforcement, first responders, and jobs that pertain to public safety should still have the ability to conduct background checks at the beginning of the hiring process.
The ALEC model Bill to Ban-the-Box on Employment Applications outlines these reform efforts. Currently, it is estimated that between 70 and 100 million Americans have a criminal record, some including misdemeanors, minor infractions and non-violent crimes. This measure can help those ex-offenders become productive members of society.