Boots & Sabers

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1441, 05 Oct 15

Banning the Box

Senator Lena Taylor is proposing a bill that would prohibit businesses from asking job applicants if they are a felon on job applications.

Banning the box still allow employers to conduct a background check.

However, the employers would delay asking about a felony conviction until later in the hiring process, either after the interview or a conditional offer of employment.

This is also known as “fair chance” because it gives job applicants who have rehabilitated a fair shot at earning a family-supporting job.

Generally speaking, I think businesses should be willing to hire felons if they are the most qualified for the job and if the felony conviction isn’t directly related to the job activity. The felons are out of jail and in our society. The best way to integrate them back into society is for them to have gainful employment (and somewhere to live, but that’s another subject). Being a felon shouldn’t automatically disqualify a person from holding most jobs. The exception would be jobs that involve a high degree of discretion and trust – like a police officer, judge, CFO, etc.

As Taylor is proposing it, employers would still have the discretion to disqualify felons further into the hiring process if appropriate, but would not be able to disqualify them at the start. This would help more felons at least get a shot at a job. A felon who may have otherwise been eliminated at the point of application may get the chance to impress an interviewer and be considered for the job before having to explain a felony conviction. The cost is that employers (and the applicants) would have to spend time and money processing people who may get disqualified in the end anyway.

Some work needs to be done on it, but this bill is worth considering.


1441, 05 October 2015


  1. scott

    I think it’s definitely worth considering. Our prison population numbers are shameful and can only be rightly understood as a bizarre continuation of Jim Crow–just a new way to disenfranchise people of color. In recognition to what the criminal justice system has done to systematically destroy entire communities around the country, I think it wise to do whatever we responsibly can to heal the damage.

  2. Fairs Fare

    Background checks aren’t limited to criminal behavior. Most aren’t even called criminal background checks anymore. Any employer knowingly singling out (not hiring/firing) a person from this protected class (offenders) without an existing “substantial relationship” is subject to a discrimination claim. This law could help individuals in these groups but as WI is an “at will employer” state it’s all for show and really doesn’t stop employers from considering the offense, charge or conviction. They just won’t give a reason why they won’t hire or wait for any little reason to fire. It’s a step in the right direction but more needs to be done. Let’s remember background checks pick up conviction records including felony, misdemeanor and other offenses. The key words are “other offenses”. If you have a municipal charge (parking ticket/non criminal) for possession of marijuana that’s five years old it can and will come up in a background check. Many employers create a “substantial relationship” between such offenders and the job to avoid any future liability. Many employers actually conduct post background check interviews to question applicants about the specifics surrounding the offense and will often have copies of the police reports, witness statements and court transcripts on hand to hold you to the truth. Any misstep in your answers and they established reasons to support the “substantial relationship”. This is a hot topic because of the ease at which information is accessed. I also heard rumors of a bill that would erase non violent misdemeanors from ones record if one complies with all conditions and avoids further charges for a period of five years. They should include those “other charges” in the bill. On a related subject, did you know that a person with a charge/conviction of a municipal nature (non felony/non misdemeanor, other offense) isn’t eligible for expungement or pardon in Wi. So if you got busted for a joint in college it can stay on the books for life effecting all future job prospects that establish a substantial relationship between the job and the offense. I don’t think that’s fair.

  3. Conley

    Fairs Fare was denied employment at Hardee’s due to his pederasty and unhygienic behavior. This bill would not help him.

  4. terry

    In Scott’s world when a black cop arrests a black man who commits a crime and is sentenced by a black judge, racist white America is disenfranchising “people of color”

    Yea, that’s the ticket…

  5. scott

    Not quite getting your point, Terry. Which part of my comment do you take exception to?

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