Oakland County “Bans the Box” on Job Applications

Oakland County “Bans the Box” on Job Applications

(Oakland County Board of Commissioners, June 27, 2019)

Pontiac, MI- Oakland County now joins 35 states and more than 150 cities and counties across the nation in adopting fair chance hiring practices, also known as ‘ban the box’, which will ensure that the county considers a job applicant’s qualifications before considering their arrest or conviction records.

Led by Commissioner Nancy Quarles (D-Southfield), the policy will remove ‘the box’ that asks job applicants about their arrest or conviction records from Oakland County job applications so that a job applicant’s qualifications are considered first. The policy, which was adopted at the Board’s June 2019 meeting, also urges private employers and county contractors to adopt fair chance hiring practices. The policy will go into effect by August 1, 2019.

“The ‘box’ discourages applicants from applying in the first place, and research suggests it can dismiss consideration for a job before their qualifications are all considered,” said Quarles. “We created a fairer system that shifts job applicants from being just a number to being considered as a person. All applicants deserve a fair chance at getting hired.”

Under the policy, the county will determine which jobs warrant a background check or are required by law and will conduct background checks for these positions only. The county will not consider the criminal conviction of an applicant for employment until the applicant is being interviewed or is otherwise qualified for employment.

“The goal of this new policy is to consider a job candidate’s qualifications first – without the stigma of a conviction or arrest record,” said Board Chairman David T. Woodward (D-Royal Oak), who credited Commissioner Quarles’ leadership for getting the policy adopted. “This is a justice issue as much as it is a fairness issue. We are also urging all Oakland County’s private employers to join us and adopt similar policies.”

The policy incorporates the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s guidelines regarding the use of arrest or conviction records in employment decisions under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. These guidelines include prohibiting certain criminal record information from consideration in hiring decisions, such as arrests that did not lead to convictions; considering only specific job-related convictions in hiring; and providing job applicants an opportunity to explain their criminal record.

Research indicates that an estimated 70 million people in the United States – nearly one in three adults – have a prior arrest or conviction record. One of the primary challenges these individuals face is unemployment or underemployment due to unfair and unreasonable hiring practices. Applicants who are rejected during the initial screening process for simply having a record are denied the opportunity to demonstrate their qualifications or explain how their lives have been changed through rehabilitation. Through the implementation of fair chance hiring policies, individuals have a greater chance of finding stable employment, which studies indicate has been found to be a significant factor in reducing re-offending.

For more information about the Board of Commissioners, please visit www.oakgov.com/boc

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