Last week, through the issuance of an executive order, the City of Birmingham became the first city in Alabama to “ban the box” on its hiring applications.  The prohibition applies to municipal positions within the city, and it prevents an inquiry into an applicant’s criminal history at the application stage.  The executive order, however, exempts the city’s police requirement from the ban.   

Birmingham Mayor William A. Bell, U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Labor Chris Lu, and The Dannon Project Executive Director Kerri Pruitt announced the change Thursday in a press conference at the U.S. Attorney’s Office.  The city will continue to lead the way by expanding existing programs and furthering our reach,” Mayor Bell said.  “There is no such thing as a disposable person.  We must take the time and make the effort to offer second chances to the thousands of people impacted by these statistics.” 

“There is strong data showing that finding a job substantially reduces an ex-offender’s likelihood of returning to prison,” U.S. Attorney Vance said.  “For those who believe former inmates are unsafe or unfit for the workplace, there is also ample data showing that employed ex-offenders have better retention rates, better performance metrics, and pose no greater risk within the workplace than those without a conviction history.” 

More than 100 cities and counties and 17 states have adopted similar rules.  Troutman Sanders has extensive experience in counseling companies on background screening compliance, including in “ban the box” jurisdictions.