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City Council Votes To Ban ‘The Box’

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – City Council today gave final approval to new restrictions on the questions employers can ask of job applicants about possible prior criminal records.

Advocates for ex-offenders, including Wayne Jacobs of Ex-Offenders for Community Empowerment, said finding a job can be still difficult many years after release, because they always have to check the box on job applications specifying that they have prior convictions.

“People who have been home maybe 10, 15, 20 years, they have to face the box,” said Jacobs. “And these people have shown that they are crime-free, and they are good citizens and they need to work.”

City Council approved a bill that prohibits employers from putting that box on job applications and from asking about ex-offender status during the first interview. Such questions are allowed during a follow-up interview.

The bill now goes to the mayor. A spokesman says he will sign the measure.

Reported by Mike Dunn, KYW Newsradio 1060

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  • Anonymous

    @ Jack (How bout we get rid of the “Race” box? Lets make things real fair!) March 31, 2011 at 2:47pm: Yes, let’s get rid of that ‘Race’ box. I never understood why they all say ‘non-Hispanic’, when there are people, such as myself, who are both Black, White, Indian, AND Hispanic? Where is the box for MY group? And very VERY few applications ANYWHERE have a ‘multi-racial’ box. And if it did, it would probably say ‘multi-racial non-Hispanic’. I’m just saying!!

  • Anonymous

    @ Barbara April 1, 2011 at 1:01am: Trust me. As far as City, State, and especially Federal, they already know if you have a criminal record. It’s the private sector jobs that have to really dig into your records to find that info out.

  • Barbara

    So what effect will this have on the City, State and Federal job applications? It’s my understanding that all government job applications have that ‘box’. Will it be removed for the government offices with vacancies in Philadelphia or would it only affect private and/or non-profit businesses in this area? How much does removing that question from applications and first interviews help ex-offenders file discrimination suits against a business in this area?

  • John

    Last job I worked they didn’t background check the guy that extensively, just called his references, who lied apparently, because he’d just gotten out of jail for rape. Which he committed while IN UNIFORM when he was a COP.
    Most of the women quit the office shortly after that, because he was hitting on everything in skirts.
    If you went to jail, I want to know what for, and how long ago. Some people do deserve a second chance, but I would not put a rapist in an office full of young women with no other men around.

  • tom

    That is City council support the criminals after all they themselves are thiefs and criminals.
    I as an employer want to know if a applicant was convicted of any crime.
    I need to know I can TRUST my employees.

  • taterbizkit

    While I don’t necessarily agree with the law, I can’t get all excited about it. Employers do background checks anyway. If it’s important enough to an employer, they will still find out on their own.

  • bottomline

    Just an excuse to remove the box?
    Why not re-word the question – “Have you been convicted of a crime in the past 10 years?”
    The idea that this question could be asked at a later time is an ambiguous back door for hiring criminals.

    Seems, Philly could save money by closing the cities current employment office and moving it to the nearest prison, I heard the food is good at the prison cafeteria too.

  • Ed

    It will have little impact on the 1st interview. If the applicant has a gap(s) in their employment history, It will have to be explained what he or she was doing during that period of time..

  • Jack

    How bout we get rid of the “Race” box? Lets make things real fair!

  • T Ford

    Mayor Nutter will sign this into law because he didn’t receive any opposition from the business community and he’s competing for votes from the Returning Citizen (ex-offenders) population which make of rough 300,000 people in Philly…

  • Terry

    Yes, because God forbid we judge people on their characater.

  • Linda D Bryant

    THIS BILL!!!!!

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