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Business Leaders Oppose City Council Plan to Hide Criminal Records of Job Applicants

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Criminal Background Check | Image by Shutterstock

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Dallas’ business community is questioning whether a so-called “Fair Chance” ordinance that prohibits questions about an applicant’s criminal history, currently being considered by City Council, could lead to unforeseen problems.

If approved, the ordinance would apply to all private businesses with 15 or more employees and prevent questions about criminal history. Businesses that ignore the rule would be fined for each instance of non-compliance; the proposed fine is $500.

To date, 150 cities across 37 states have passed so-called “Fair Chance” ordinances, including DeSoto and Austin. In Austin, the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce (TGACC) fiercely opposed a similar ordinance before it was finally passed in 2017.

Having confidence in hiring choices and feeling safe are critical concerns for the manager at one local business.

Arie Jones, a manager at the Live Oak Smoke Shop in Dallas, was unfamiliar with the city’s possible ordinance and expressed surprise to hear that questions about criminal history could soon be prohibited.

Jones believes in second chances but also feels that knowing a person’s background is vital when moving forward in the hiring process.

“A business needs to know whether a person has been convicted of money laundering or stealing before handing over the keys to a business,” she said.

“They might have been reformed, but their past is their past,” Jones told The Dallas Express, adding, “Regardless of a person’s past, it is still relevant to the hiring process.”

Louis Darrouzet, CEO of the Metroplex Civic & Business Association (MCBA), believes it’s a bad idea to regulate what types of questions a business can ask its job applicants while also recognizing the value of a second chance.

“I’ve heard from member companies and their leaders about their concerns around the city’s ordinance,” Darrouzet told The Dallas Express. “On the other hand, the city is creating pathways for people to find better job opportunities.”

Community members don’t want individuals convicted of financial theft working in the banking industry. Likewise, they don’t want someone with a history of automobile theft to be a locksmith, Darrouzet explained.

“In general, yes, we should give people a second chance. But it’s never good to hinder businesses with regulation,” he said.

We welcome and appreciate comments on The Dallas Express as part of a healthy dialogue. We do ask that you be kind. Kind to each other and to everyone else in your comments. For more information, please refer to our Complete Comment Moderation Policy.

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Carolyn
Carolyn
2 months ago

Wow, while I certainly believe in giving a person a “second chance” I’m siding with businesses on this one. If an employee with a criminal record ends up stealing from a company, like a pawn shop and that employee stole jewelry that was “pawned” to that company for a temporary loan – then that person who had their jewelry stolen could end up suing the company. Plus, who wants a criminal working for a daycare, or a nursing home, or a zoo.. a criminal is much more likely to physically harm a living being or animal with absolutely no remorse or care. And like the article states, who wants a criminal with a robbery history to work for a bank! Yeah, listen Dallas City Council members, you need to side with businesses on this one, why? because it’s GOOD business. People CHOOSE to rob, cheat, and steal. Businesses should have every right to ask about criminal history on job applications.

Senior Pastor
Senior Pastor
2 months ago

People need to be held accountable for their actions. A permanent criminal record is a deterrent for others to even commit an offense to begin with.

I use to own a janitorial service and a woman applied and was hired pending her criminal background check. Well there background came back with theft left and right and a new case was pending. She was immediately fired. What if we had put her in a building with the keys for access to all the offices? Could you imagine?

A K
A K
2 months ago

This doesn’t prohibit background checks. I can see it being a cost savings if the employer had no intention of hiring someone with a record and the applicant self identified. But that relies on the applicant being honest. All in all it’s kind of a crap shoot either way.

Woody hickman
Woody hickman
2 months ago

Does this also apply to the city of Dallas jobs ?
I see nothing about them , just private businesses .

Lanie
Lanie
2 months ago

I can’t believe the City Council would suggest this. It should be up to the business owner whether he wants to hire a person or not and he should know who he is hiring.

Miss Milly
Miss Milly
2 months ago

They need to do something about the deferred adjudication conundrum before they start focusing on people who have actually been convicted.