- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 17, 2016

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) - An updated policy says businesses that are contracted to work for Kalamazoo will be asked to show they don’t discriminate against job applicants with a criminal history.

Businesses seeking to provide more than $25,000 in work to the city are among those covered, the Kalamazoo Gazette reported (https://bit.ly/1Xi8iRP ). Specifically, they’ll have to indicate they don’t have questions about criminal history on initial application forms.

Commissioners voted 6-0 Monday on the proposal. Supporters said they hope to encourage state lawmakers in Lansing to make similar changes.

The proposal’s supporters packed the city commission chambers and hung banners in the chambers that stated, “Why should I be punished my whole life?” ”Thank you city of Kalamazoo” and “Fair Chance for All,” the name of the group pushing for the change.

“We have taken about three steps up a hundred-step flight,” Jerrin Yarbough, a member of Fair Chance for All, said in reaction to the vote. “We put in a lot of work but not enough, and this is one small cause to celebrate in a line of a lot of them.”

The ultimate goal for the group, Yarbough said, is “for an idea of equality to be able to transcend into lawful behavior.”

Michigan United brought the proposal to a city commission meeting in March and a work group considered the changes. The city will ask the Michigan Department of Civil Rights or the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to investigate any discrimination allegations.

In 2011, Kalamazoo eliminated a question about felony convictions on applications for city employment.

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Information from: Kalamazoo Gazette, https://www.mlive.com/kalamazoo


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