City of Los Angeles Proposes to "Ban the Box"

September 2016 - Los Angeles City Council voted to prohibit employers from inquiring about a job applicant's criminal history until after a conditional offer of employment has been made.

The city is just the latest in the national trend to "ban the box" on employment applications asking about conviction history.

"It is designed to give someone a fair chance," said Councilman Curren Price. "Hopefully they'll at least get their foot in the door. It's an opportunity to expand our workforce and provide opportunities to individuals who express a desire to rehabilitate."

Supporters of these types of laws argue that individuals with convictions stand a better shot of being considered for a job if they are able to get to the interview process without being asked about their past.

Most ban the box laws allow employers to inquire into criminal history after an offer of employment is made and many laws ask employers to consider the severity of the crime, time passed since the crime occurred and its relation to the job applied for before denying employment based on the conviction.

However, a study released in June by the University of Michigan shows that these types of laws re-enforce racial discrimination with African American applicants rates of call-backs dropping based on the idea they are more likely to have criminal records.

Los Angeles employers who wish to rescind a job offer after finding out about an applicant's criminal history would need to provide a written report and allow the applicant an opportunity to appeal the decision. The proposed law would fine employers $500 for a first offense, $1,000 for a second and $2,000 for a third offense.