‘Ban the box’ bill passes Oregon House

Measure would make it illegal to have an application that asks a job prospect if he/she has a criminal background.

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A measure that would make it illegal to have an application that asks a job prospect if he/she has a criminal background passed the Oregon House.

It was approved on a 33-27 vote.

From the Portland Tribune:

About one-third of the states have similar legislation known as “ban the box,” according to the National Employment Law Project. Most of those laws apply only to government employment, but six states extend it to all employers. Portland and Multnomah County have such bans applying to government employment. A work group set up by the Portland City Council is considering how the city ordinance, originally adopted last year, may extend to private employers. Rep. Rob Nosse, the bill’s floor manager, said the bill still allows the question to be raised during an interview – and does not bar criminal background checks.

“All these Oregonians are asking for is a fair chance to explain to potential employers why they are qualified for the job,” the Portland Democrat said. “They should be given the ability to explain what they can bring to an employer’s business and not be faced with potential discrimination because of something that happened that represents what is probably one of the worst moments of their lives.”

The Associated Press wrote about the opposition to the bill:

“So in other words, you don’t have to have a box on the application. But if you inquire into or considered the history of someone prior to an interview, you are committing and unlawful employment practice,” said Rep. Mike McLane, the Republican leader in the House.

He also argued many companies, such as Walmart Stores Inc. and Home Depot Inc., already have removed the criminal history question from their application forms. Groups that advocate for workers’ rights have been lobbying state governments for years to adopt policies that reduce barriers to jobs for people with criminal histories. Supporters say the movement has gained momentum in the past two years as states including California and New Jersey have scrubbed the question from job applications.

The bill will be considered by the Senate next.