Missed Opportunity on ‘Ban the Box’
In an example of legislative missed opportunity, business community efforts to find a workable compromise on a bill that would eliminate the check box on job applications regarding past criminal activity are being pushed aside.
HB 5237 prohibits job applications from containing any check box to indicate that the applicant has a past criminal record.
Employers won’t be able to run a criminal background check on an individual until after they had already made a conditional offer of employment to the applicant.
If the employer denies the job to that individual with a previous conviction, the applicant can bring a discrimination complaint to the state’s Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities—where many people believe the system is broken.
The CHRO’s merit review system that once weeded out frivolous complaints has been superseded by a litigation process in which employers lose—in time and money spent on the process—even if they win the case.
HB 5237 is overly complicated and practically unworkable.
Consider: Under this bill, an employer would have to hire someone they make a job offer to even if it’s found that the applicant has committed a crime that should prevent them from being hired.
An employer would have to hire someone even if it’s found the applicant committed a crime that should prevent them from being hired.
Trying to rescind that offer could make the nursing home subject to years of legal wrangling.
HB 5237 could make it take forever to hire anyone—especially if you can only eliminate individuals with recent criminal histories after you’ve made them the job offer.
Finally, the biggest question of all: How does this balance with the ever-increasing responsibility on employers to provide safe workplaces? Will employers get any protection against charges for negligent hiring?
A coalition representing the business community, which had concerns about the bill from day one, offered to work with the advocates to draft a compromise bill.
While some of the advocates expressed interest in working with the business community, others would rather have no bill at all rather than work with the employer coalition to solve the problem.
Unfortunately, that approach rarely gets you across the finish line in the legislative process.
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