An Employer may not Consider Criminal History in the Early Stages of the Application Process

S.957 would prohibit employers from inquiring as to, considering, or requiring the disclosure of the criminal history of an applicant prior to the applicant being selected for an interview or being made a conditional offer of employment. The bill also stipulates that prior conviction of a crime may not disqualify an applicant for employment unless the crime is directly related to the employment he is seeking. Further, even if the crime is related to the employment sought the applicant may not be disqualified if he can produce competent evidence of rehabilitation (proof of honorable discharge from military service, proof of a clean record for one year or more after being released from prison etc.).

If an employer does deny an applicant due to criminal history they would have to notify the applicant of that fact in writing, and tell them that at the time when they may reapply evidence of rehabilitation will be considered.

Finally, the bill creates a tax credit for hiring a qualified ex-felon (a felon who hasn’t been convicted of another crime for two years or more since leaving prison). If the ex-felon employee works 120 hours the employer can claim a credit worth 25 percent of the employee’s wages for the first 12 months of employment.  If the ex-felon works at least 400 hours the employer can claim a credit worth 40 percent of the employee’s wages for the first 12 months of employment.

State government should not be interfering in the process private businesses use to hire employees. Every business has the incentive to hire the best person for the job and to the extent they discriminate against certain classes (ex-convicts for example) who are otherwise best suited for a position they will be punished by the market. Making employment decisions based purely on discriminatory reasons will be punished by losses, through both the loss of potential productive employees and the competitive edge non-discriminating competitors will gain when they hire these workers. Businesses are actively seeking the employees that will increase both their own profitability and consumer satisfaction, the state shouldn’t hinder private businesses ability to meet either of these goals.

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