The City of New Orleans is eliminating an initial obstacle from its employment process. Job applicants won’t have to immediately disclose a criminal conviction.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu is calling it the “ban the box” policy.
His proposal, approved by the Civil Service Commission, eliminates the question of whether an applicant has ever been convicted of any offenses other than minor traffic violations. Background checks will be done later in the process for some jobs where the information is considered relevant.
Landrieu says people coming out of job-training programs while incarcerated now have a better chance of getting a job and staying out of jail.
He says disclosing a criminal past at the start of the hiring process can be “an economic death sentence,” and it can discourage people from even applying for work.
Landrieu says a person’s qualifications and conduct after incarceration are good indications of character.
The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recommended the policy last year. It’s in effect in more than 50 cities, including New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.