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Bill would preclude employers from asking about felony convictions

Posted March 5, 2013

— A bill introduced in the House on Monday would prohibit employers from asking job applicants whether they are convicted felons.

House Bill 208, dubbed the Ban the Box Act, would eliminate the check-off box on employment applications asking whether someone has a felony conviction on their record.

"It is a curse," Rep. Marcus Brandon, D-Guilford, said of a felony conviction. "For the rest of their entire life, they have this on their record, and they can't get jobs, they can't get housing."

Brandon said many municipalities have already eliminated such questions from their applications, and preventing other employers from asking about past crimes would help people reintegrate into society after being released from prison.

"These people have paid their debt to society already," he said. "There are folks who were 21 years old when they got a charge who are 50 years old today who still have that on their record and cannot get a job."

The legislation would permit employers to ask about felony convictions only after they have made a conditional job offer to an applicant or if the person is seeking a job that could place the public or specific individuals at risk.

The state labor commissioner would have to adopt rules designating which jobs may present an unreasonable risk for a convicted felon to hold and what factors employers would need to weigh to determine whether a specific applicant presents a risk.

Any other employer that violates the Ban the Box Act would face a $100 civil penalty.

Meanwhile, the Senate passed two bills Tuesday afternoon dealing with the criminal history of job applicants.

Senate Bill 91 would prohibit employers from asking job applicants about expunged criminal records or face a $500 civil penalty.

Senate Bill 33 would require state licensing boards to weigh the circumstances of a crime – how long ago it occurred, how old the person was and the severity of the crime, for example – in determining whether to deny a professional license.

Both bills are headed to the House.

12 Comments

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  • jonmac Mar 6, 2013

    Read the entire article folks. I says employers would still be able to inquire but after a CONDITIONAL offer of employment has been made. A prior felony conviction, in and of itself, should not be used for application culling, which is exactly what happens, if the box is checked the application goes in the garbage. When the application only asks if there is a prior felony and leaves no room for explanation then there's really no way for the applicant to get around it and keep the application from going in the trash. There are lots of felonies that are non-violent and would not affect job performance on certain jobs. We can't say we want convicted felons to be productive members of socitey and then so broadly limit their opportunities. It's not about being liberal, it's about using common sense.

  • Terkel Mar 6, 2013

    ""There are folks who were 21 years old when they got a charge who are 50 years old today who still have that on their record and cannot get a job."

    And there are folks who have no records and at 50 still can't get jobs. As usual, the libs want to reward criminals. smh.

  • AConservativePerson Mar 6, 2013

    This is a ridiculous bill. Of course, employers have the right to know if the prospective employee is a convicted felon. I am sorry, but I don't care to work along side rapists/murderers/armed bank robbers/etc even if they have paid their debt to society.

  • wral mods blow close my account Mar 6, 2013

    Just say NO. I bet half the employers are too lazy to check.

  • waltindurham Mar 6, 2013

    Don't do the crime if you can't do the time. Part of the time is having a criminal record.

    Walt-in-Durham

  • jeff27577 Mar 5, 2013

    ohhhh wow....a whopping 100$ penalty. and no, im not a felon

  • Tax Man Mar 5, 2013

    How about automatically expunging convictions that are over ten years old where the person has not committed any more crimes and led an exemplary life? People make mistakes, if they learn from them why keep punishing them? If they have rehabilitated don't we want to help them?

  • Nancy Mar 5, 2013

    I think it would be VERY important to know of certain crimes, like theft, embezzlement, sexual crimes. Think of the jobs they could apply to.

  • corncop Mar 5, 2013

    Stupid Bill!!! I most certainly have the right to know if a prospective employee has a criminal record. I do ask and weigh the facts and circumstances. As a business person I should have that right. Hire a convicted bank robber at the bank??? Maybe you would. Misdemeanors are one thing and felonies are another. It's my business, I have the right to know--and the right to not hire!

  • alshomes Mar 5, 2013

    "It is a curse," Rep. Marcus Brandon, D-Guilford, said of a felony conviction. "For the rest of their entire life, they have this on their record, and they can't get jobs, they can't get housing." Well GET A LIFE Rep.THIS IS THE CONSEQUENCE OF THE CRIME. ,MAYBE CRIMINALS SHOULD THINK TWICE BEFORE COMMITTING A CRIME. DUH!!!!

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