During the last city council meeting for 2013, Councilman Nick Mosby (D-District 7) introduced “Ban the Box,” a bill that would bar prospective employers from asking, in the initial job interview, if a job applicant has a record of criminal arrests or convictions.
On Dec. 5, Mosby said omitting the criminal conviction-check for applications and interviews would help more Marylanders obtain employment and give them the opportunity to re-enter the workforce.
“This legislation will provide a level playing field for people who have experienced criminal convictions in the past,” Mosby told the AFRO. “Many of our citizens have been convicted …This makes people discouraged about the whole job process and doesn’t give them a fair shot to compete.”
He said his proposed legislation, known as Ban the Box, would force employers to judge an applicant’s credentials and job experience, rather than their criminal past.
Mosby’s bill would prevent employers from running a background check until after the interview. If passed, employers under the bill could not require an applicant to disclose whether they have a criminal record, conduct a criminal background check or make any inquiries about a criminal past.
He told the AFRO that many Marylanders, not just in Baltimore, are rejected because of a criminal history.
According to the introduction to Mosby’s legislative proposal, “individuals with criminal records suffer from pervasive discrimination in many fundamental areas of life including: employment, housing, education and eligibility for many social benefits.”
“Hopefully this will help citizens gain employment because a lot of people are unemployed,” he said.
Mosby said he hopes to have a hearing on the bill by mid-February.
“Right now people aren’t getting a shot at all. Their application ends up in the trash,” he said.
“With my legislation, at least they get a chance to put their foot in the door to sell themselves and then the employer gets a chance to make an objective decision based [on] the presentation that the person provided to them in their interview.”
The measure, if enacted, would apply to private employers with 10 or more employees and would not force employers to hire anyone with a criminal record. If enacted, Baltimore would join the list of U.S. cities to address discrimination against ex-offenders with legislation.
“This gives people the opportunity to fight and compete for jobs that should be available to them,” said Mosby.