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Fair Chance Act Passed, Banning Employers from Asking About Criminal History

On Tuesday evening, the Fair Chance Employment Act was passed by the Monroe County Legislature, marking a significant step towards combating discrimination faced by individuals with criminal histories in the job market.

According to reports, over 19 million Americans have a felony on their permanent record. Those seeking a fresh start in employment may find relief with the Fair Chance Employment Act.

Sabrina LaMar, the President of the County Legislature, emphasized that African Americans and Latinos are disproportionately affected by the criminal justice system. She explained that questions regarding criminal records on job applications create additional barriers for these communities when seeking employment opportunities.

“Black and Latino applicants with criminal records encounter significant structural disadvantages within the employment market” LaMar said. “Implementing Ban the Box policies is a crucial step in dismantling the systemic discrimination faced by individuals with records in their pursuit of employment.”

In addition to addressing discrimination, LaMar highlighted the positive impact the new law will have on the county. By removing the criminal history question from job applications, approximately 800 vacant positions can be filled, benefiting the community and the economy through increased tax revenue and enhanced public safety.

The Fair Chance Employment Act offers convicted felons the opportunity to showcase their skills and qualifications during the hiring process without the scrutiny of their criminal history. Instead, inquiries into past convictions are postponed until after a conditional job offer has been extended. This approach aims to dismantle the unfair stigmas surrounding individuals with criminal records, allowing them a fair chance at rebuilding their lives.

The United Way of the National Capital Area reported 1.53% of job listings on platforms like LinkedIn and Indeed are fair chance opportunities. On average, there are only 15.8 fair chance job listings for every 1,000 job advertisements in the United States. However, there are a few shining examples, with four of the top five cities with the highest percentage of fair chance job listings located in California. These cities include San Francisco (4.90%), Los Angeles (3.39%), San Jose (2.76%), and Sacramento (2.53%).

When it comes to industries that embrace fair chance employment, the retail sector takes the lead with an impressive 122.4 fair chance job listings per 1,000 job ads. Following closely behind are the technology (69.4), education (37.9), and healthcare (34.6) industries, all demonstrating a commitment to providing opportunities for individuals with criminal records.

In the National Capital Area, specifically, Largo, Maryland (3.01%), Alexandria, Virginia (2.92%), and Silver Spring, Maryland (2.89%) emerge as the top three cities for fair chance job listings. These cities are leading the way in creating a more inclusive and equitable job market for individuals seeking redemption.

While progress is being made, there is still much work to be done to ensure that individuals with criminal records are not unfairly discriminated against. By continuing to advocate for better laws and encouraging employers to embrace fair chance employment, we can create a society that values redemption and second chances.

It is important to note that the legislation does not apply to positions where accessing criminal histories is legally required, such as the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and the Children’s Detention Center.


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