NEW ORLEANS, LA – Today, the City Civil Service Commission approved a new policy that will “ban the box” that requires applicants to disclose prior convictions on initial job forms, and will establish new guidelines for screening candidates before a final hiring decision is made. Proposed by the Landrieu Administration, the new policy is designed to remove obstacles that might prevent qualified ex-offenders from attaining or retaining quality jobs.
“It is crucial that our citizens have opportunities to be connected to jobs,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “Past mistakes should not be a permanent barrier for people who want to earn an honest living and contribute positively to our city. This effort is another step in the right direction as we continue to rebuild New Orleans."
The Landrieu Administration is committed to promoting jobs and opportunity as a pathway towards prosperity, a key pillar of Mayor Landrieu’s comprehensive murder reduction strategy, NOLA FOR LIFE.
More than 50 municipalities, including New York, Chicago, Baltimore, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. have approved policies to “ban the box,” and a growing number of private companies, including Target Corp., have done so.
In April 2012, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recommended as a best practice that employers eliminate the criminal history question from job applications.
Currently, the City’s Personal History Form, which all job applicants must complete, asks the question, “Have you ever been convicted of any offenses other than minor traffic violations?” The new policy will remove this question and checkbox from the application, allowing all applicants to be considered for employment based on the merits of their skills and experience related to the position for which they are applying. The City will still consider applicant’s criminal history, but later in hiring process along with other pertinent information.
Under the new policy, all recruitment information, announcements, and position descriptions will contain the following statement if the position is determined to require a criminal history check: “This position is subject to a background check for any convictions related to its responsibilities and requirements. Employment is contingent upon successful completion of a background investigation including criminal history.
Departments will follow the appropriate procedures for interviewing and selecting candidates for the position. The City will conduct criminal history checks on all candidates and make final hiring decisions based on all relevant information, including the seriousness of any past conviction, when the incident took place and what has occurred in the applicant’s life since that time.
The hiring department will send a final response to the applicant regarding the job offer.
“This is an opportunity for people to state their case, to sit down with someone and explain all of the circumstances. I made a mistake 20 years ago and was arrested for selling drugs. I did my time and I’ve turned my life around. I have licenses to work in insurance and security but I can’t find a job,” said Lenard Veal said, an advocate for ex-offenders.
James Logan, the City’s Reentry Services Program Manager, said, “A key to reducing recidivism is providing stable employment and economic opportunity. Banning the box for City employment is an important step in assisting returning citizens to become productive members of our communities and it sets an example for other employers to follow.”