“Ban the Box” Policy in Arlington; Criminal History Minimized in Hiring

The Arlington County, Virginia government has adopted a “ban the box” policy.  This policy delays criminal record inquiries until later in the hiring process.

Proponents of the “ban the box” movement argue that considering criminal records early in the hiring process results in racial discrimination because minorities have a higher conviction rate than other applicants.  This may be reflected in bias within the criminal justice system.  They also argue that it hurts rehabilitation for one who has served his sentence to be disadvantaged in getting a job.  There is public interest in getting ex-offenders employed.

Opponents of the movement argue that one’s prior bad behavior should be weighed heavily in job selection as it can predict future behavior.  In addition, employers have special liability whenever they hire an employee with a criminal record.  There are concepts in the law of “negligent hiring,” “negligent retention,” and “negligent supervision” upon which an employer could be sued if the employee with a criminal record commits a new crime while on the job.

Many states have begun the adopt “ban the box” policies.  Closest to Arlington is, of course, the District of Columbia’s government.

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