LA Council approves delaying employers from asking about applicants criminal records

The Los Angeles City Council approved an ordinance Wednesday that bars employers in Los Angeles from asking job applicants to disclose their criminal records during the initial stages of the recruitment process.

The measure, which was approved on a 12-1 vote, will institute a policy known as "fair chance" or "ban the box," requiring employers to remove check boxes or questions from job forms that ask about an applicant's criminal

Councilman Mitch Englander cast the dissenting vote.

The council must vote on the matter again since the initial vote was not unanimous, but it is expected to pass since subsequent votes require a mere majority.

If given final approval, employers with 10 or more workers and city contractors will be prohibited from asking about criminal history until a conditional job offer has been made.

An employer who 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after learning about his or her criminal record would need to provide a justification for why the job offer is being rescinded.

City officials point 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 have spoken in favor of Los Angeles adopting the ban at City Council committee meetings.

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