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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Banning The Box

Recovery is about many things, but most importantly it is about starting over and getting one’s life on track. People who have lived with addiction for many years, many of which have been convicted and served time for the crime of being an addict, often find it difficult to get a job after finding recovery. Most places of employment have a section on their application that inquires about one’s criminal history, which applicants are required to respond to honestly. Unfortunately, being honest can often times mean you will not get the job; if you choose to lie about your past, and are discovered down the road - you will almost certainly be terminated.

As the nation takes a more open and honest look at the nature of addiction, especially in the wake of the prescription opioid epidemic that has touched people from all walks of life, many Americans are looking past the stigma of addiction and recognizing that it is a disease (like any other). If treated and program of recovery is maintained, recovering addicts can be productive members of society like anyone else; yet, many addicts in recovery, who have a criminal history related to their addiction, find that they still have obstacles to overcome - especially in the realm of employment.

Fortunately, the currents appear to be changing with regard to discriminatory hiring practices. This week, the President issued a directive calling on federal employers to hold off on asking potential hires about their criminal history until later in the hiring process, The Huffington Post reports. The movement toward removing criminal history boxes on applications has been dubbed “banning the box”

The President’s directive is the latest in a series of efforts among both lawmakers and those in the private sector to give people a fair shot at getting their life on track, according to the article. In Georgia, Vermont and Virginia executive action has been taken to ban the box on public-sector job applications.

In the private sector, a number of companies have already removed the criminal history box from their applications. The companies include:
  • Bed Bath & Beyond
  • Home Depot
  • Target
  • Walmart
“The fact that more and more of our nation's major employers -- including a company like Koch Industries that is synonymous with conservative politics -- are choosing to embrace fair-chance hiring policies shows that this is an idea with broad appeal whose time has come,” said Christine Owens, executive director National Employment Law Project.

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