The city council decreed that city employers and contractors may not include questions about criminal records on job applications.
The New Orleans Law
On October 18, 2018 the city of New Orleans announced that they passed a new Ban the Box Ordinance. It prohibits city employers and contractors from including questions about criminal records on their job applications. These employers are still encouraged to run criminal background checks on job seekers, but only after conducting an interview or extending a conditional job offer.
New Orleans already had a similar law in place that covered classified and unclassified positions for city departments, agencies and boards. This new law expands the scope and goes into effect on March 1, 2019.
Why They Implemented A Ban The Box Policy
The primary goal of banning the box is to help people with criminal histories find jobs and, in turn, reduce the likelihood that people will be arrested again. Prior to the Ordinance, applications that New Orleans residents completed in the hopes of landing a job with the city were allowed to ask if the person had a conviction. Individuals who did were asked to check a box. Doing so made it unlikely for them to receive further consideration even if they were highly qualified and eligible for a position.
The new law prohibits that practice. It gives employers a chance to see the person’s qualifications before learning if they have any criminal history. If a job seeker has a conviction, then the city employer may consider whether or not it is relevant to the position.
Councilmember Kristin Palmer spoke in favor of the new law. She said: “I've heard personal stories from ex-offenders and their families who remind us that, for far too long our criminal justice system has placed its priorities in punishment and not rehabilitation. Ex-offenders should not serve a life sentence after serving time in prison. This new policy allows them a chance to be considered for employment based on their qualifications and experience related to the position they're applying for and not their past."
The Growth Of Second Chance Laws
Millions of Americans have been arrested. While many of these arrests and convictions were for minor offenses, simply having any type of criminal history can make it difficult for people to find jobs. An inability to obtain employment is a major factor for recidivism, which can lead to an ongoing pattern of new arrests and convictions.
Second chance laws, like banning questions about convictions from job applications, are intended to create a better, safer experience for everyone. People who have convictions from many years ago or were arrested for something minor are given opportunities to rejoin the workforce. Employers receive more chances to find qualified and eligible people for their team.
Keeping Up With Relevant Laws
Many states already have second chance laws and more are expected to follow. To help you keep up with these and other relevant regulations, Backgrounds Online maintains a State Law section. When new state laws are passed, they will be added for your convenience. Use this to learn about laws that are in place where you operate.
If you have questions about your background screening policies, what laws affect you or anything else related to background screening, please contact us. Our background check processing team is friendly, experienced and here to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm Pacific time.