After amending the original measure, the new employment bill passes with bipartisan support.
BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR
A bill that aims to make it easier for people convicted of crimes to get a job passed the Oregon Senate Thursday in a bipartisan vote.
The ‘ban the box’ measure passed in a 21-8 vote and now heads back to the House for concurrence before it can be sent to Gov. Kate Brown to be signed into law.
“Banning the ‘box’ will help Oregonians who have served their time reintegrate into society and break the cycles of criminal violence that are far too common,” Senator Michael Dembrow (D-Portland), chair of the Senate Workforce Committee, said in a news release. “We know that people of color are disproportionately caught up in our criminal justice system, and thus are disproportionately harmed by employers’ criminal background check procedures. House Bill 3025 is a modest step toward remedying the long-term consequences of a criminal justice system that disproportionately harms communities of color.”
The bill that passed Thursday, though, was an amended version of the original bill brought forth by labor advocates.
The new version removes applicants’ ability to sue employers for violating the law, instead giving enforcement power to the Bureau of Labor and Industries. It would also exempt employers that are required by law to consider an applicant’s criminal history, and add language to clarify that employers can ultimately decide not to hire someone because of a conviction.
The new “ban the box” bill is a watered-down version of the one put forth by labor activists at the start of the legislative session, which would have banned employers from conducting a background check until a conditional job offer is extended. The House Business and Labor Committee amended the bill to say employers need only remove the question from applications.
“Studies have clearly shown that employment can reduce recidivism. However, many individuals released after serving their time are unable to even get an interview, let alone find a job, because of their conviction,” Senate Majority Leader Diane Rosenbaum (D-Portland) said in the release. “House Bill 3025 removes a barrier to opportunity for individuals trying to re-build their life.”