Every now and then, you read a news story about an employee who went to a home to clean the carpet and later robbed the place.
The perpetrator had a prison record.
That is not only a trauma for the homeowner; it’s a serious problem for the business owner, who probably will be sued. The business owner, you’d think, has a duty to screen his employees and make sure he doesn’t expose customers to the risk of employees with a known criminal history.
This poses a conflict with the “ban the box” movement.
A standard practice on job application forms is to ask applicants whether they have ever been convicted of a felony. Check yes or no. The applicant who answers “yes” likely won’t be hired, or even get a second look.
Advocates, such as the National Employment Law Project (NELP, nelp.org), want to eliminate that box.
The “ban the box” movement says ex-cons deserve a chance to start fresh. If society won’t let them earn an honest living, the argument goes, they may have no choice but to resume criminal behavior.
It’s in society’s interest to help them get back on their feet — but it’s loaded with obstacles.