As I noted in my last post, this week is devoted to checking on the status of legislation affecting ex-offenders.
One of the more effective strategies — and one that seems to be gaining steam — is the “Ban the Box” grassroots campaign. The box, of course, is that section of the employment application that asks about whether you have a criminal record. The question can come in a variety of forms as blogger James Walker notes in his very comprehensive post. Sometimes it’s even a series of questions, as I discovered when my son recently applied at our local grocery store for a job as a bag boy. These are usually yes/no questions, typically followed by a space where you’re asked to explain any charges in further detail.
The problem is that once you check “Yes,” your application often goes no further. One human resources professional recently told me that in cases where someone answered yes in an online application at his former employer, the application was automatically deleted.
Since 2003, some 30 cities states and counties have eliminated the box and the question from applications. These include:
Hawaii (1998), Minnesota (2009) and New Mexico, this year. Just last month, Connecticut passed a law removing the box from applications for public jobs. Bills are also pending in Wisconsin and Nebraska. Major cities that have banned the box for government jobs include San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and Minneapolis/St. Paul.