We’ve all seen that question on a job application before. That question that asks you if you’ve been convicted of a felony within the last 5 years or so. If you were fortunate to never have been, you would just check “no”, finish filling out the app and hope that you get the job.
On the other hand, if you were convicted of a crime and now you’re labeled as a felon, you weigh your options on whether you should tell the truth and hope that your resume speaks for itself and that your potential employer look past your criminal transgressions, which wasn’t likely.
Or, you lie and check “no”, knowing that it increases your chances of getting hired and hope that if you do get hired, your employer never finds out about it during their background check…if they ran a background check.
This is the #1 question on all job applications that all felons feared to answer. This is the question that made it the hardest for convicted felons to reenter the workforce.
Well, this question could be a thing of the past in Michigan as a new bill is being proposed that will stop employers from asking those applying for a position about their criminal histories on the actual job application. This legislation, known as “ban the box” by many, has been well received since its inception, and now it is headed to the Michigan state House committee so they can hear testimony.
The legislation is known as “ban the box” because it is eliminating the check box on a job application that asks if one has ever committed a felony. Proponents of the bill say that should this legislation go through, it will help felons find jobs after they get out of prison. The Michigan Ex-Offenders Right to Work Movement is actively promoting this bill, and even asks for the public’s help on their website.
“When ex-offenders work crime goes down, welfare goes down, and America gets a taxpaying ex-offending citizen,” says the sites homepage. “Contact your local and state reps and tell them you support “Ban The Box” and they should too. Join or support the movement, check it out or help it out, and please tell a friend because there is power in numbers.”
Those pushing the bill are trying to make it clear that it would not stop an employer from turning down a prospective employee because that person is a felon, as they would still be allowed to ask about their history in an interview and find out the specifics in a background check, but it allows felons to at least make it to the interview process without getting immediately turned down right off the bat.
“I think once employers understand that it does not infringe upon their right to scrutinize employees and be able to make the final decisions about hiring … there’s no reason for them not to (support it.),” said Rep. Fred Durhal Jr., who introduced the bill in Michigan.
“Ban the Box” is already up and running in other areas, including in Richmond, California, where there was overwhelming support for the initiative.