Hillary Clinton Wants to Ban the Box for Federal Job Applicants

By Michael Klazema on 11/2/2015
The topic of pre-employment screening has officially become a part of the 2016 Presidential Election cycle. According to a recent report from TIME, Hillary Clinton has gone on record saying that she wants to ban the box for Federal Government jobs. Said another way, the former First Lady and current presidential hopeful believes that the Federal Government should remove questions about criminal history from all job applications. More than that, Clinton would reportedly take executive action to prevent the government from asking job applicants about their criminal pasts.

Ban the box policies are not new in the United States. On the contrary, the "Fair Chance" employment movement has been gathering steam over the past few years, with an increasing number of cities, counties, and states enacting legislation to prevent employers from asking applicants if they have ever been convicted of a crime. So far, banning the box has been far more common for public employers than for private employers. However, several major municipalities, including New York City, do have laws in place banning the box for both public and private jobs.

Clinton's executive order, were it to come to fruition, would be the next logical step in the narrative of the Fair Chance movement. There are already several subjects that employers simply can't ask about on job applications, including sexual orientation and religion. These rules are in place to prevent employment discrimination and give all applicants a better chance of being seriously considered by hiring managers. Criminal history, it seems, is destined to join that particular "no-fly" zone.

Banning the box for all Federal employers and contractors also makes sense in the context of Clinton's campaign platform. The Democratic frontrunner has made criminal justice reform a centerpiece of her candidacy so far, fighting against mass incarceration and racial profiling, among other issues. Since ban the box policies are all about giving ex-convicts a better chance of proving their worth to employers, bringing such a policy to the Federal level would be a way for Clinton to make a big splash and start living up to her promises very early on in her theoretical presidency.

What does this mean for background checks? As with other ban the box policies, Federal employers would still be allowed to run background checks under Clinton's policy. Those checks would merely have to wait until later on in the employment vetting process, likely until after the first interview.


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