November 19, 2015

 

LAWT News Service 

 

The City’s Economic Devel­opment Committee recently requested the City Attorney’s office to draft an ordinance that would prohibit city contractors and private employers from asking job candidates about their criminal histories until a conditional offer of employment has been made.

 

If adopted, Los Angeles would join the federal government, 19 states, and numerous cities nationwide to establish a Fair Chance Initiative, widely known as Ban-the-Box, which helps remove barriers to employment for the formerly incarcerated. Earlier this month, President Obama issued an executive order requiring federal agencies to delay inquiries into criminal history until later in the hiring process.

 

“It’s not fair to ask a potential employee to disclose criminal history in a job application or initial stages of the hiring process because it unjustly disqualifies formerly incarcerated individuals,” said Councilman Curren Price, who introduced the motion in June 2014. “These folks have paid their debt to society and may be trying to get their life back on track, become contributing members of society, and I wholeheartedly believe they deserve a second chance.”

 

According to the National Institute of Justice, a criminal record reduces the likelihood of a job offer by 50 percent. Other cities and municipalities to Ban-the-Box and ensure people with convictions have a fair chance to work include New York, San Francisco and Chicago.

 

Los Angeles’ policy would require City contractors and private employers with 10 more employees to remove questions relating to criminal history from job applications. It also would prohibit employers from asking questions about criminal convictions until a conditional offer of employment has been made.

 

During the committee hearing, supporters of the Fair Chance Initiative provided passionate testimony about the importance of the policy and urged the City of Los Angeles to join the movement and help restore hope and opportunity to qualified job-seekers with criminal records.

 

Several local organizations, including LA Voice and Homeboy Industries, have urged city leaders to enact a policy to help people get their foot in the door.

 

"We believe in a God of second chances, that's why LA Voice faith leaders, many formerly incarcerated, have worked to make sure that we aren't giving people a life sentence of joblessness at the moment they are seeking a new path,” said Minister Zach Hoover, Executive Director of LA Voice. “We are encouraged by the advance of the motion and look forward to passing the most helpful Fair Chance Initiative in the nation so that we can help more of our family succeed, contribute, and turn it around.”

 

Jose Osuna, Director of External Affairs at Homeboy Industries said, “We at Homeboy Industries fully support the Fair Chance Initiative as this policy would be in line with our mission and principles. We believe in the possibility of transformation and this initiative is something tangible that allows people to step right into that process by transforming themselves from formerly incarcerated people to contributing members of our community.”

 

The committee’s recommendations for adopting a Ban-the-Box policy is expected to go before the City Council by end of November. The Bureau of Contract Administration in conjunction with the City Attorney’s Office will be asked to report back on an enforcement strategy including monitoring, compliance and penalty structure.

 

Price said he hopes the Fair Chance Initiative becomes law by early 2016.

 

“We want to help former convicts break the cycle of recidivism, reintegrate them back into the community so that they can rebuild their lives and be success stories,” he said. “These individuals have paid their dues and done the time. It isn’t fair to punish them over again.”

Category: Business



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