Lucas County commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved the “ban the box” issue, which eliminates asking about criminal record history on job applications.
In a related move, at the end of council’s regular Tuesday meeting, Toledo City Council President Paula Hicks-Hudson asked the Bell administration to consider banning the box for the city as well.
The resolution enacted by the board of commissioners amended the county’s employment policy that previously included a check box for job applicants who have misdemeanor or felony convictions.
The commissioners believe that the criminal history question can be a barrier in getting skilled and qualified candidates in the employment process for county jobs.
The policy applies to the departments under the commissioners’ authority, which includes Job and Family Services, Clerk of Courts, Dog Warden’s office, and Treasurer.
The county will continue to run criminal background checks of applicants who move past the initial application process.
“We will do criminal background checks at the appropriate time, under the appropriate circumstances, with the full knowledge of the applicants,” Commissioner Pete Gerken said.
Currently, 53 cities and counties in 22 states have adopted “ban the box” initiatives, which do not allow employers to inquire about prospective employees’ criminal records. Supporters of the national movement believe questions involving criminal records are discriminatory.
Last year, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said it was illegal to screen out employees unless the crime was related to the job.
About 20 years ago, David Alexander served three years in prison after a robbery conviction in Lucas County Common Pleas Court. After serving his time, Alexander, 54, of Toledo, took a job with the Salvation Army and eventually became a certified chemical dependency counselor.
However, he lost his job in 2010 and has been unable to get work, in part, because of his criminal history. He thinks removing the box from the employment application is a good idea.
“This is great. This is a huge step in the right direction,” he said.
Contact Mark Reiter at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6199.