President Obama announces “ban the box” executive orders

Many employment applications include a question pertaining to the applicant’s past criminal behavior and whether they have been convicted of any crimes. More often than not, checking the yes box immediately removes the applicant from the pool of potential candidates, regardless of the crime committed or factors involved in the applicant’s conviction. For the 600,000 individuals that are released from federal or state prison on an annual basis, getting a job is a key step in putting their lives back on track.

The Obama administration believes that by delaying the revelation regarding an applicant’s criminal background, many applicant’s will have a better opportunity to be hired. It will allow the applicant to proceed in the interview process and have an opportunity to explain the criminal background. President Obama cited this barrier as one of the most challenging aspects of a criminal re-entering society.

In the short term, President Obama issued executive orders that will eliminate the question from applications for many federal positions. However, for private employers to be subject to a similar rule, Congressional action will be required. Therefore the announcement by the Obama administration will only immediately impact those applying for federal positions.

© 2015 Houghton Vandenack Williams
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