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Council ‘Bans the Box’ to Help Ex-cons Land Jobs

The City of Buffalo has voted to “ban the box”, making it illegal for any employer to ask job seekers on their applications if they have ever been convicted of a crime. The measure will now be submitted to the mayor for his signature, but the strong support in Council Chambers points to a veto-proof majority and the likelihood it will become law. The measure recognizes that stopping employers from asking job applicants to check a box on job applications if they have a criminal record allows those who have served time or been convicted of minor offenses to at least get an interview. Having to check the box is one reason ex-cons have higher unemployment rates. Opponents argued that asking the question on applications allows employers to know about a criminal background from the beginning and the measure serves as a slap in the face to law-abiding citizens applying for jobs. The Council president stressed that any employer can ask any question about criminal records during an interview, but the new measure at least allows an applicant to state their case. Some exemptions – such as for those applying to be police officers, teachers or childcare workers – are included in the new law.

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