Minutes before Philadelphia’s City Council voted on a ‘Ban the Box’ ordinance on March 31st, 2011, Law Center Executive Director Jennifer Clarke argued in favor of the proposal, which bans employers from asking about a job applicant’s convictions during the initial phase of the hiring process.
Further, it requires that any decision not to hire be based on the actual requirements of the job.
City Council passed the ordinance with a vote of 13-4.
In her testimony, Clarke pointed out that the law will make it more difficult to discriminate against formerly convicted people for employment purposes – a practice that is already illegal, but nevertheless widespread. The box is often used for blanket discrimination of ex-offenders, and it disproportionately affects men and people of color. The ‘ban the box’ ordinance is a step in the right direction, offering ex-offenders a second chance to find jobs, support themselves and their families, and escape the structural poverty that traps so much of Philadelphia’s population.