Washington DC—Today, Councilmember Kenyan R. McDuffie (D—Ward 5) issued the following statement after the passage of the Fair Criminal Records Screening Act of 2014.
“I am pleased to announce that my colleagues and I passed the Fair Criminal Records Screening Act of 2014—Ban the Box bill— as it signals a shift in policy that will create more equitable hiring practices in the District of Columbia.
Today, I made further amendments to the Ban the Box bill. These changes are the product of my discussions with returning citizens advocates as well as leaders within the business community. Together, we have arrived at a solution to a pervasive problem and we will all benefit from providing meaningful opportunities to the more than 60,000 previously incarcerated individuals who wish to return to work in our city.
I have fought tirelessly to include the provision which allows potential hiring officials to ask about one’s criminal history only after a conditional offer of employment has been made. This is critically important. It allows returning citizens to be judged on their merits prior to consideration of their past. This requirement remains unchanged from the original introduction of my Ban the Box amendment. As a result, the bill as amended represents a bold step for the District of Columbia as it becomes one of only four jurisdictions that prohibit private employers from inquiring into an applicant’s criminal history until after a conditional offer of employment is made.
The amendment makes several other changes to the bill in order to strike a balance between the concerns of the business community and the bold changes that we must take to create non-discriminatory hiring practices. A new exception was outlined specifically for businesses and facilities that provide services or care to minors or vulnerable adults. Potential employers may still be asked to provide a copy of all records procured by the employer in consideration of an applicant and must advise the applicant of his or her opportunity to file an administrative complaint with the Office of Human Rights; however, the clause requiring employers to provide a written statement of denial was removed. Lastly, eighteen months after the bill is enacted, the DC Auditor will be responsible for providing the Council of the District of Columbia with a report outlining the impact of this legislation on returning citizens and employers.
Moving forward, I am comforted by the fact that these amendments were the result of a collaborative process which included advocates and the business community. It is my hope that these changes will create a more productive workforce and help employ many of our returning citizens who are ready, willing and able to work.”