"Ban–the–Box" - NEW Policy
Millions of qualified job applicants in the country are plagued by a past record and are discouraged from applying for employment although they are highly qualified because applications typically require conviction history information to be included on the application. This may lead to some employers unfairly rejecting job seekers simply because they see the “checked box” and do not want to deal with the issue or the applicant (ex-offender) self-disqualifying because they are aware of their conviction and will assume the organization will not consider them for employment.
To help deal with the challenges of being denied gainful employment as a result of an offense or conviction, in the early 2000s, grassroots organizers in San Francisco and Boston began urging local government to remove questions (check boxes) from their job applications related to one’s conviction history, hence the name “Ban–The–Box”. Over the last decade, over a 100 jurisdictions and 27 States have adopted this concept (also called fair chance policy) including the City of Austin, Travis County and now Dallas County, per Court Order 2015-1602.
In accordance with Dallas County policy, it is a requirement that all candidates submit an online application which includes questions regarding current/past criminal offenses. By removing these questions (for selected positions) upfront and asking them during the hiring process (for example after or prior to the conditional offer), applicants’ will be judged based on their merits and qualifications rather than their offense/conviction. This will allow applicants a better opportunity for gainful employment, because the hiring manager’s decisions will be based on the applicants’ skills/qualifications with no prior knowledge of their offense/conviction.
The purpose of the “Ban-The-Box” concept is not just to delay the background check but also to ensure that when background checks are required, they are used fairly based on guidelines and policies that incorporate the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Guidelines (USEEOCG) “best practice”…… “if such inquiries (background checks) must be made, these inquiries should be limited to job related convictions for the position in question and consistent with business necessity (i.e. that organizations make individualized assessments instead of using blanket exclusions).”
Dallas County is committed to supporting the “Ban–The–Box” initiative because according to the National Employment Law Project (NELP) fair chance campaign, giving opportunities to individuals with records (ex-offenders) to obtain gainful employment and will result in the following:
- Create safer communities;
- Reduce childhood poverty;
- Facilitate community reintegration;
- Reduce recidivism;
- Strengthen families and reduce the hurdle to “gainful employment” for areas highly concentrated with ex-offenders because residents of the community are no longer barred from being positive economic contributors in the community; and
- Strengthen the pool of potential job applicants for local, targeted hiring within the community; thus, ensuring that the largest proportion of the local community can benefit.
Dallas County in adopting the “Ban-The-Box” initiative (fair chance policy) is committed to being an agent of change for its citizens and the development of our communities.