A bill that would have prohibited some employers from asking job applicants about their criminal records doesn’t appear to be moving forward this year. WNPR’s Jeff Cohen reports.
Bills like this one are often referred to as “ban the box” efforts – referring to the box on job applications that people check if they’ve been convicted of a crime. This bill would have made it illegal for the state and businesses that contract with the state to ask the question of applicants during the first round of review.
State Representative Mike Lawlor of East Haven co-chairs the legislature's judiciary committee and supports the bill.
“There are some unintended consequences of the current policies where convicted felons are pretty much unemployable. At the end of the day the only thing that really matters is reducing crime and the data show that if a person comes out of prison and has a job they’re much less likely to get into trouble again than if they don’t have a job.”
Lawlor said his committee didn’t take action on the bill because some legislators didn’t like the idea itself, while others objected to technical details of how the bill would work.
Representative Bill Hamzy of Bristol says he likes the ideas of helping employ felons, but he doesn’t think that the state legislature should burden businesses at the same time. Hamzy says forcing businesses to ignore a relevant part of a job applicant’s background in the first stage of review could cost those businesses both time and money.
“To tell employers that they cannot get the full picture of a potential applicant from the get go I think is an unwarranted intrusion by the legislature into that process.”
Both New Haven and Hartford have passed similar laws. Lawlor says he expects the state to eventually adopt some type of legislation that would satisfy both businesses and advocates for those coming out of prison.
For WNPR, I’m Jeff Cohen.