WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) Monday applauded President Obama’s planned announcement that the White House Office of Personnel Management will implement “ban the box” hiring practices, requiring federal agencies to refrain from asking applicants about prior convictions until later in the hiring process.
In May, Brown led a group of 26 of his Senate colleagues in a letter urging Obama to require federal contractors and federal agencies to “ban the box” on job applications. Brown is also a cosponsor of the Fair Chance Act, bipartisan legislation that would require federal contractors and federal agencies to “ban the box.” The bill was unanimously passed by the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs in October.
“Fair hiring practices help prevent recidivism and allow people who have served their time to reenter the workforce,” Brown said. “Banning the box for federal agencies is a great step towards ensuring that all Americans can earn a living and make a positive contribution to their communities. Congress must now take action to pass the Fair Chance Act and extend ban the box to federal contractors.”
For the more than 70 million Americans who have a criminal record, inquiries about prior convictions so early in the hiring process can serve as categorical disqualification, and limits their ability to provide for themselves and their families. Studies have shown that an inability to find employment is one of the leading causes of recidivism.
Reforming hiring practices has widespread support from both public and private sector institutions. Nineteen states, including Ohio, and more than 100 cities and counties have already begun to implement fair chance hiring practices.
Cities and counties across Ohio, including Cuyahoga County, Hamilton County, Summit County, Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dayton, Massillon, and Youngstown have already “banned the box” for government employment applications. Many of the nation’s largest employers, including Walmart; Target; Bed, Bath & Beyond; Koch Industries; Starbucks; and Home Depot, have also opted to “ban the box.”
Under “ban the box,” employers would retain the ability to inquire about past convictions or conduct background checks regarding a potential employee before making an employment decision. Positions related to law enforcement and national security duties and positions that require access to classified information would be exempted.