by Chris Trainor - FreeTimes
The City of Columbia has passed a law that it will not ask for job seekers’ criminal history on initial employment applications, and it will encourage vendors that do business with the city to also eliminate criminal history from their applications.
The new law also stipulates that the city will not ask for a prospective employee’s wage history when considering that person for a job.
Columbia City Council unanimously passed final reading on the new law at an Aug. 6 meeting.
The practice of omitting a criminal history question on an application is commonly known as “banning the box.” According to the National Employment Law Project, 35 states and more than 150 cities and counties have adopted a “ban the box” policy, essentially choosing to eliminate the question of a person’s criminal history from initial job applications. Richland County Council voted to establish such a policy in early June.
The theory is that, if an employer sees on an application that a person has a criminal background, they could develop an opinion about that person before ever taking a closer look into their qualifications and abilities. Banning the box could help eliminate that initial barrier. The City of Columbia has been practicing “ban the box” in its own internal hiring practices for about three years, per city officials. The new measure formally makes it city law, and takes the extra step of encouraging the entities that do business with the city to follow the same practices.