- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 23, 2015

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) - Some members of the Dubuque City Council offered support for a city panel’s call for employers to delay asking about job applicants’ criminal history until later in the hiring process.

The Telegraph Herald (https://bit.ly/22pYSWE) reports the council voted 6-1 to accept a list of non-binding recommendations form the city’s Human Rights Commission meant to address criminal-justice reform, including a call to “ban the box.”

The commission and some council members argue that removing the box applicants must check if they have been convicted of a crime would provide a fairer system and eliminate employment barriers for people who have been incarcerated.

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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued guidelines in 2012 advising employers to make individual assessments instead of blanket exclusions during the hiring process.

Council Member Ric Jones said “People who exit the corrections system need a path to employment that is real and viable.”

Council Member Karla Braig emphasized that the council was not approving a new ordinance or enforcement measure, but was encouraging employers to consider judging a candidate’s qualifications first, without the stigma of a criminal conviction.

Big brother government isn’t telling you how you have to run your business. Nobody is going to make business owners do anything they don’t want to do,” Braig said.

The recommendation was opposed by Council Member Kevin Lynch, who said local businesses are obligated to keep workplaces safe and protect their clients and financial interests. Lynch said he has hired someone with a criminal record, but does not agree with “shifting the burden” away from job applicants to disclose past crimes.

“Yes, they may have paid their debt to society, but the fact of the matter remains that they committed a crime,” he said.

This story has been corrected to show the Dubuque City Council discussed a recommendation by the Human Rights Commission but didn’t take action.


Information from: Telegraph Herald, https://www.thonline.com

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