Members of the Formerly Incarcerated & Convicted People’s Movement have led the fight to end (or at least slow down) employment discrimination. California has recently joined the ranks of states that will wait until they have offered before asking “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” This new law only applies to state and local governments, but private employers such as Target have voluntarily changed their application procedure after the threat of a lawsuit upon their corporate headquarters in Minnesota.
On July 1st, Los Angeles is poised to become the largest city in America to switch to this more inclusive policy. “Los Angeles is the city of second chances,” the Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “Somebody might have been arrested for prostitution, they might have been trafficked into it. They might be arrested for drug trade or gotten involved in gangs because they had no parents around. If we’re a city that’s going to be truly compassionate, and most importantly, that’s going to move the entire economy forward, we can’t leave these folks behind.”
Although conducting background checks further along in the process (rather than on the initial application) does not ensure discrimination will not occur, it does force an employer to consider a criminal history in light of the fact that someone is right for the job. The employer can then decide if their past action is somehow related to the job at hand, and/or recent enough to cause concern. Furthermore, the prospective employees may explain about how their lives have changed, or the circumstances of what might be simply one tragic or unlucky day.
Those wishing to get more information, or involved with expanding this policy to all employers in the state of California, should contact All of Us or None, Legal Services for Prisoners With Children, or A New Way of Life.
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