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Colorado debates about applicants with criminal backgrounds

Hiring someone with a criminal background is never an easy subject for employers. On one hand, many hiring managers want to keep their workers safe and believe hiring someone who has committed terrible deeds could put them in danger. On the other, this type of mentality has led to thousands of people in the U.S. unemployed and unable to get a proper second chance at life.

A study by the Colorado Center on Law & Policy stated that more than 60 percent of formerly convicted individuals are unemployed one year after their release. The ones who find jobs don’t fare well either, as 40 percent of them received less annual pay than those without criminal histories.

Hoping to decrease unemployment and improve the chances of criminal justice reform, state lawmakers recently introduced House Bill (HB) 1025, which many are calling the “Ban the Box” bill.

What does HB 1025 do?

The new bill prohibits employers from discouraging applicants with criminal histories from applying in their advertisements and applications. However, the largest change that most lawmakers are talking about is how the bill requires employers to no longer request the applicant’s criminal history on the initial application. The only times where this wouldn’t apply is if the law requires a certain position to prohibit applicants that have committed certain crimes.

It’s worth noting that it doesn’t ban employers from finding out about the applicant’s criminal history entirely. They can still run background checks at any time and bring it up to the applicant during the interview. This bill primarily aims to give Colorado residents with criminal history a better chance to prove themselves to their employers without getting immediately rejected for marking “yes” on if they were convicted of anything. The state would provide small businesses two years to put this law into practice.

A mixed response

While more lawmakers are supporting this proposal than they would in the previous years, some are still hesitant on adding this restriction to small businesses. A few other states in the country have passed similar laws, but only time will tell whether or not that will discourage Colorado lawmakers from approving this legislation.

In the meantime, job applicants and families should know what legal options they have available if they have suspicions about an employer’s hiring practices.

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