Finding a job with a felony conviction has been very difficult. Many prospective employers ask whether individuals have misdemeanor convictions or arrests in their past making them ineligible for employment. It is estimated that one in four adults living in California have either been arrested or convicted of a crime. Therefore, a large section of our population can’t get work.
Governor Jerry Brown has finally signed a bill into law that requires potential state and municipal government employers first determine whether an applicant is qualified for a position before they can ask questions about their criminal history.
More than forty cities and counties nationwide have passed laws that prohibit employers from asking about a job applicant’s criminal history until they have determined that the applicant qualifies for the job. The hiring organization must demonstrate necessity of enforcing criminal records restrictions before deciding that a person’s criminal history is a basis for hiring or not hiring someone. This gives people a better chance of being evaluated for based on their qualifications.
This type of legislation is called, “Ban the Box” which refers to the box on a job application asking whether the applicant has ever been arrested or convicted of a crime.
The law does not prevent employers from running a background check once it is determined that someone is qualified for a position and before making a job offer. However, people are, at least, given a chance to first show that they are qualified, in many cases, highly qualified for a position. The law removes the first barrier and allows people with a criminal record to get their foot in the door which is all some people need.