On Sunday, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram published my editorial ‘Ban the Box’ feels good, but it’s a misguided effort. This is one of the few editorials I’ve seen published telling employers’ side of the Ban the Box debate.

As I say in the editorial, the Ban the Box advocates are winning the rhetorical battle by falsely suggesting that employers’ criminal history inquiries are merely check boxes without any opportunity to provide offense details and that employers, when they see a checked box, routinely eliminate the candidate without any additional consideration.

Click to see an enlarged version of the Ban the Box delays currently affecting private employers.

Seven states have implemented regulations governing private employers’ criminal history inquiries. However, where this idea is getting the most traction is at the city and county government level. Nine local governments have already banned the box for private employers and many more are considering such moves.

Some of these regulations go beyond simply delaying the criminal history inquiry and restrict what an employer can consider. For instance, New York City requires a written explanation be provided to the applicant, detailing eight different factors to be documented. Austin is considering a similar proposal.

This local level agenda is being pushed by the National Employment Law Project (the same group pushing for a national $15 minimum wage at the state and city level) through the National League of Cities.  This is concerning because local elected representatives only receive NELP’s side of the issue through NLC.

Additionally, an increasing number of local newspapers are endorsing Ban the Box regulations based upon the limited information provided in NELP press releases.

Employers are losing the PR campaign. I hope you’ll read my editorial and consider improving upon it for submission to your local paper.

Also, pay attention to what your local city council members are discussing in this area. Contact them with your concerns.
If employers don’t get involved in this fight, we are going to end up with a national patchwork of regulations that vary city by city. This won’t significantly help former offenders but will be a giant headache for employers.