The city of Portland, Oregon, has done away with the section on its job applications for city employees that asks applicants if they have a criminal history, The Oregonian reports.
Early in May the city removed the box asking if applicants had any criminal convictions, and this month the notice informing job seekers that the city may conduct a criminal records check also disappeared from the application.
With the removal, Portland joined the rest of Multnomah County as well as 60 other towns in Oregon.
Dante James, director of the city’s Office of Equity and Human Rights, celebrated the decision and supports the idea that convicted felons should not be eliminated from working in government.
In a press release, James noted that the recent Governing for Racial Equity Conference aided in changing minds. “Human Resources leaders took to heart the chilling outcome that these types of questions can have on former offenders,” he said.
Bureau of Human Resources director Anna Kanwit also celebrated the decision but noted that criminal background checks are still part of the final application process for some jobs whether the application mentions it or not.
However, Dante James insists that a criminal history should not automatically eliminate an applicant. “If you’re applying for a job that you don’t have to drive for, and you had a DUI, that shouldn’t matter to the city,” he said.
Portland isn’t the only city making this change to applications. Earlier in the year the City of Omaha, Nebraska, also began to consider eliminating the criminal history section of city job applications. In January, the city’s mayor openly supported the move.
Following the trend, some private businesses have changed job applications in this same fashion. Chicago’s Jewel-Osco food stores, for instance, announced the end of its criminal history section in May of this year.
“Jewel-Osco recognizes that many of our neighbors with felony convictions in their past are now positively contributing to our communities,” the company said in a statement. “For this reason, we decided to move the request for criminal background information to the end of the interview process. Jewel-Osco believes this change will allow us to hire the most qualified candidates to provide the best service for our customers.”
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