Washington, D.C., likely to is join four states and several cities in prohibiting companies from asking job applicants up front if they have a criminal record, reports NPR. It’s part of a growing movement called Ban the Box, a reference to that box on a job application form that asks, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” Advocates for the laws say having to check the box prevents many ex-offenders from getting a fair shot at a job.
In Washington, an estimated one in 10 residents has a criminal record. Nationally, about 70 million people in the U.S. have been arrested or convicted of a crime. Sensitive jobs, like child care, are still protected under the laws. And they point out that employers are not prevented from checking an applicant’s criminal record. They just have to do it later on in the hiring process, in some cases after the employer has made a preliminary job offer. That’s too late, says Elizabeth Milito of the National Federation of Independent Business. “That’s pretty far down the road for a small business owner that might have only five or 10 employees and needs somebody in there now,” she says.