'Ban the Box' Bill to Give 2nd Chance to Job Seekers with Records

By KBJR News 1

April 22, 2013 Updated Apr 22, 2013 at 9:13 PM CDT

St. Paul, MN (NNCNOW.com) - A bill, making its way through the Minnesota legislature, would give a second chance to job seekers who've had run-ins with the law, looking for a job.

The Senate gave the green light to the "Ban the Box" bill this weekend in a 44 to 16 vote which would essentially do away with the box on job applications that asks about past criminal convictions.

The bill's author, Sen. Bobby Jo Champion (DFL-Minneapolis), calls it a chance for redemption.

Senator Champion says having a job candidate forced to let prospective employers know about past criminal convictions upfront could potentially land their job application in the trash without any further discussion.

By doing away with the box, the Senator says job candidates would have a chance to prove themselves by discussing their skills and abilities for that particular job.

"Later in the process allows an individual's skills and qualifications to rise to the top, and then for the person's past, to be something they can discuss as part of the process so the employer gets a clearer sense of what occurred, so (the employer) can make an informed decision as to what they want to do," Sen. Champion said.

The Senator says in a state where one in five people carry criminal convictions, it's a law that will open more possibilities by helping some who wouldn't ordinarily be hired, find steady work and remain law abiding.

"Companies are not getting the benefit of getting to know a person's skills and qualifications. It's also important if someone has made a bad decision in the past they get an opportunity to right the wrong and for you to see the rehabilitate steps they've taken to become better citizens," Sen. Champion said.

A potential employer would still be allowed to ask about criminal convictions during the interview process.

The bill also includes a $500 fine should an employer violate the law.

Republican Senator Sean Nienow was one of 16 Senators who voted no to the bill.

The Senator said while he supported the concept, he didn't agree with all the language contained in the bill.

Kevin Jacobsen
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