A proposed ordinance that would bar employers in Los Angeles from asking job applicants to reveal their criminal records during the initial stages of the recruitment process cleared the City Council’s Economic Development Committee Tuesday.
The measure would institute a policy known as “ban the box,” requiring employers to remove any check boxes from job forms that ask about an applicant’s criminal record.
Under the proposed ordinance advanced by the Economic Development Committee, employers with 10 or more workers would be prohibited from asking about criminal history until a conditional job offer has been made.
“For far too long, there has been discrimination in employment on the basis of criminal record,” said Councilman Curren Price, who chairs the Economic Development Committee and authored a motion to approve the measure.
“Today, we are sending a clear message that it is not morally right to be denied a job solely because of past mistakes,” Price said. “Qualified applicants should be judged based on their skills and experience alone.”
Price pointed to statistics from the National Institute of Justice that show the likelihood of a job offer goes down 50 percent if an applicant has a criminal record.
The measure is part of a national movement aimed at giving formerly incarcerated people a better chance at obtaining employment. Representatives of groups like A New Way of Life, LA Voice, Homeboy Industries and All of Us or None spoke in favor of Los Angeles adopting the ban.
Under the proposed ordinance, an employer that ultimately decides against hiring a person after learning about his or her criminal record would need to provide a justification for why the job offer is being rescinded.
Employers that violate the law would face $500 to $2,000 in fines for each instance.
The proposed ordinance — along with another policy that would place similar prohibitions and penalties on city contractors — will be taken up next by the Entertainment and Facilities Committee. If approved there, the ordinances would go to the full City Council for consideration.
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