On November 27th the Spokane City Council will consider a Fair Chance Hiring policy which will extend to all employers in the City of Spokane. If adopted, Spokane will join many other cities across the United States that have “banned the box” to give previously-incarcerated citizens an opportunity to showcase their job skills to a potential employer without being arbitrarily discarded during the application process.
Spokane City Councilmember Breean Beggs has worked with Greater Spokane Incorporated (GSI) to develop Spokane’s Fair Chance Hiring policy and GSI has created a model application available to all employers.
“Employers want to hire the best person for the job,” said Councilmember Beggs. “I believe our local economy will grow even stronger when all of our productive and skilled citizens get a fair shake at a job regardless of their criminal history. Fair Chance hiring means a stronger economy, stronger companies and stronger families. It’s time to put all of Spokane back to work.”
In addition to removing the criminal history checkbox on job applications, Spokane’s Fair Chance Hiring Policy will prohibit advertising jobs in a way that restricts applicants with criminal records. It will codify the City of Spokane’s own Fair Chance Hiring policy which was adopted administratively in 2015.
I Did the Time (IDTT), an organization that provides support to individuals and families overcoming barriers associated with past criminal offenses, has led the community effort to pass a Fair Chance Hiring Policy in Spokane.
“As a community we need to start thinking critically about what happens to us socially and economically when people who have served time can’t re-enter our community and rebuild their lives,” says IDTT’s Layne Pavey. “This policy will help those of us who return to Spokane feel hopeful that we at least have a chance to present ourselves to employers and let them see our potential instead of continuing to experience the fear and hopelessness that comes with checking that box. This is a chance for us to start dreaming again about what we can actually do with our lives after serving time.”
Under the new policy, applicants for positions that are not exempt will be given the opportunity to apply for work without the fear of a background check or application question regarding criminal history prior to an in-person or video interview or a conditional offer of employment. Exempted positions include those that have unsupervised access to minors and vulnerable persons, positions in law enforcement and employers and/or agencies that are expressly permitted or required under federal or state law to consider criminal background.
Other community organizations expressing support for a Fair Chance Hiring Policy in Spokane include Smart Justice Spokane, Greater Spokane Progress, The Peace and Justice Action League, Inland Northwest Business Association, and the City of Spokane Human Rights Commission.
(story and image: KHQ.com)