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Oregon Bans the Box!

Oregon has become the 18th State Overall to Give Qualified Job-Seekers with Convictions a Fair Chance to Work; 7th State to Enact Law for Private Sector

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From right, Urban League President & CEO Nkenge Harmon Johnson with Oregon Governor Kate Brown, Urban League Policy Director Katie Sawicki, and Urban League Policy Associate Tameka Taylor after today’s signing ceremony for Ban the Box

Salem, OR—Oregon Governor Kate Brown held a ceremonial signing today for House Bill 3025, which requires employers to remove questions about past convictions from job applications and delay conviction inquiries until after an initial interview. Commonly known as “ban the box” (referring to the check-box asking about convictions), this fair-hiring provision postpones such inquiries so that job-seekers can be judged on their qualifications and skills.

Oregon is the 18th state to adopt a fair-chance hiring policy and the 7th state to enact a law that applies to private employers, joining Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. More than 100 cities and counties also have similar policies; in late June, New York City enacted the Fair Chance Act, one of the strongest fair-chance laws in the nation. Several national companies, including Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Koch Industries, have similarly removed the conviction question from their initial application forms.

A coalition of civil rights, community groups, labor and others joined in the Oregon campaign, “A Fair Chance for All,” to reduce employment barriers for people with records. Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain lauded HB 3025, stating, “This is an important step forward for Oregon’s workers. Banning the box will help Oregonians get back on their feet, get back to work to support themselves and their families. Jobs matters; they’re the single best way to avoid recidivism. That means we’re going to make our state stronger, our communities safer, and our incarcerated population smaller through HB 3025.”

“We at the Urban League of Portland believe in second chances for all Oregonians. Banning the box on employment applications in our state represents one step forward to break down barriers to employment for people who are ready and willing to work,” said President & CEO Nkenge Harmon Johnson. “Many Oregonians have family members or friends who have been impacted by the criminal justice system, so in many ways, the bill that Governor Brown signs today is an important victory for us all. The Urban League of Portland looks forward to working together with job-seekers and employers to make ‘ban the box’ work, the Oregon way.”

Michelle Natividad Rodriguez, senior staff attorney of the National Employment Law Project, provided testimony in support of the legislation. “We estimate that there are 70 million people with arrest or conviction records in the United States—or about one in three adults,” said Rodriguez. “Today, we join the Fair Shot for All Coalition in congratulating Oregonians for taking this step toward opening the door of opportunity for millions of people who have been locked out of the job market.”

As the 18th state to adopt a fair-chance hiring policy, Oregon joins California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia in ensuring fair access to work. In addition to these states, over 100 cities and counties and the District of Columbia have embraced a fair-hiring policy. More than 100 million people now live in states where job applicants are judged on their merits, not just their past.