Not to shit all over Goldy's toes or anything—I know how invigorating he finds a good Seattle Times editorial fisking—but I have to call out this blatant lie in this most recent ham-fisted screed:
Bruce Harrell of the Seattle City Council—and now a candidate for mayor—is working on a bill to help ex-prisoners find jobs. His motive is good: Ex-inmates need to find work. However, his initial proposal would unduly restrict employers’ ability to check applicants for criminal convictions or pending charges.
State law already forbids employers from asking most applicants about criminal convictions unrelated to the job. As proposed, Harrell’s legislation would forbid an employer from any check of criminal background until after a job was offered. The employer would be forbidden to cancel the offer unless the applicant’s background had a direct bearing on fitness for the job.
I am taking issue with the bolded sentence above (never mind that the previous sentence DIRECTLY CONTRADICTS IT). I have no idea whose ass that uncited "fact" was pulled from—these editorials are unbylined, ostensibly so no one's held accountable for making shit up—but based on my reporting on this issue, that's wrong wrong wrong. The editorial board is most likely referring to WAC 162 12 140, but as one employment lawyer told me, "they're grossly misstating the law." A law which, by the way, has been invalidated by two of three Washington state appellate courts.
In fact, employment for ex-offenders is such a complicated issue that the ACLU of Washington has an entire program devoted to helping ex-offenders navigate employer background checks.
"Most employers do background checks," reads the first sentence in their Guide to Criminal Records and Employment (.pdf). "You may not be fully protected by anti-discrimination laws unless you answer the employer’s question accurately."
Then there's helpful gem, from the same ACLU document:
Employers ask all sorts of questions about criminal histories. Some employers ask if you’ve ever been convicted of any crime. Some will ask if you’ve been convicted of specific types of crimes — violent crimes, for example. Some will only ask about convictions that are within a specific time period—like 7 years.
Whatever the employer asks, you should answer accurately. But what if you have something on your record that the employer’s question doesn’t cover? For example, what if an employer only asks about convictions that are within the last 7 years, but you have a conviction that is 15 years old?
You are not legally obligated to disclose information that an employer does not ask for. But, even if you do not disclose it, the employer may find out about it. There is no easy solution to this problem.
I'm not going to comb this whole stupid editorial line by line, as Goldy often does, because I have neither the time nor the patience for that kind of bullshit. My point is, Harrell's legislation is seeking to fix a real problem—a big problem—that ex-offenders face when navigating our current employment system, as much as the Seattle Times editorial board would like to blithely pretend otherwise.