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San Francisco pushing to ban Criminal History Questions on Job Applications

Posted by Seth Chazin | Jan 21, 2014 | 0 Comments

San Francisco pushing to ban Criminal History Questions on Job Applications

Jane Kim of the Board of Supervisors of San Francisco wants to eliminate an employer's inquiry into a  job applicant's criminal history on job applications in San Francisco. Kim wants to expand the ban that is already in place and incorporate private employers, public housing providers and city contractors.

Fifty cities and ten states have already adopted some version of a law eliminating the criminal history question on job applications. Many private employers, such as Target, are removing this question on their job applications. The federal government endorses these practices for all employers because an estimated 65 million Americans have a criminal history—with 7 million are in California alone— and this would give millions of Americans the opportunity of acquiring a job once they re-enter society after serving time. San Francisco has banned most city businesses from asking this question since 2006, while California initiated the ban this year.

San Francisco was the first city to initiate banning the prior criminal history question, and this ban quickly spread throughout the country. The question may still be used on law enforcement job applications for obvious reasons, although those employers must ask the question later in the hiring process.

Currently, it is challenging for people with a criminal history to find jobs. Many people don't want to lie on their job application, yet they often feel it is the only way to land a job. This new ban will do away with the need for this as the employers will then solely look at the qualifications and skills of the applicants. As it turns out, prior offenders have often proven to be some of the hardest working and most honest employees.

This ban will offer prior offenders a fair chance at gaining employment opportunities and housing. It can be extremely difficult for an offender to assimilate themselves back into society. With this ordinance, many residents of San Francisco will be able to get back on their feet and better their lives.

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About the Author

Seth Chazin

Seth P. Chazin has aggressively defended clients in thousands of felony and misdemeanor cases for over 30 years. He has extensive experience representing criminal defendants in federal and state court, while handling both state and federal appeals as well.


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“The death penalty is a lie, a misguided mistake born of anger and frustration. Capital punishment has become a perverse monument to inequality, to how some lives matter and others do not. It is a violent example of how we protect and value the rich and abandon and devalue the poor. The death penalty is a grim, disturbing shadow formed by the legacy of racial apartheid and bias against the poor that condemns the disfavored among us, but corrupts us all. It’s the perverse symbol elected officials use to strengthen their ‘tough on crime’ reputations and distract us from confronting the causes of violence. It is finally the enemy of grace, redemption and all of us who recognize that each person is more than their worse act.”
- Bryan Stevenson