Tags: Chicago | ban the box

Chicago 'Ban the Box' Ordinance Hides Felons From Employers

Saturday, 27 September 2014 11:52 AM

Employers in Chicago will be banned from asking applicants about their criminal histories if Mayor Rahm Emanuel's proposed "ban the box" ordinance is passed.

The ordinance, to be proposed at the next city council meeting on Oct. 8, would prohibit companies with fewer than 15 employees to include questions about applicants' criminal histories on job applications, reports The Chicago Sun-Times.

Instead, companies could only conduct background checks when candidates are otherwise considered to be qualified for a job. Chicago's ordinance mirrors a state law for companies that takes effect on Jan. 1.

Several other states and communities across the country are also passing similar legislation, reports the National Employment Law Project, which is working to open job opportunities to former criminals.

"This is a common-sense move that will ensure consistent rules for businesses of all sizes and ensure people who have left prison and are trying to turn their life around can be evaluated on their abilities, said Alderman Walter Burnett.

He speaks from experience, because as a teen, he went to prison after robbing a savings and loan. Eventually he was pardoned and since became the first felon to win a seat on City Council.

Burnett said many private companies turned him down after he got out of prison, but Cook County, which along with City Hall and Illinois doesn't ask about criminal backgrounds gave him a job as a draftsman.

He'd learned the trade in prison and ended up working on road reconstruction projects.

Michael Negron, Emanuel's chief of policy, said there are more than 40,000 businesses in Chicago that would come under the ordinance.

Violations could reach $1,000 if companies are caught breaking the rules.

Some small business owners said they don't expect the ordinance to impact them, but Burnett says he knows of some businesses that turn away ex-offenders based on what they answer on the applications.

“It’s something we’re trying to change,” he said. “Jobs are a crime-fighting tool.”

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Employers in Chicago will be banned from asking applicants about their criminal histories if Mayor Rahm Emanuel's proposed ban the box ordinance is passed.
Chicago, ban the box
Saturday, 27 September 2014 11:52 AM
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