Hmm, having witnessed a serial embezzler destroy one company I worked for I fear unintended consequences. It's a shame that somebody's criminal record might deny them employment, but it's also common sense to check whether somebody who is going to be in a position of trust has any outstanding judgements against them.
Here's hoping The Stranger has to hire a rapist and have him work in the same booth as Cienna.
@2 fuck off. Take your trollery and board the troll trolley outta town.
But, if they do this, our unemployment rate might drop to 3 percent from the current rate below 5 percent, and then employers might have to raise wages, which will grow the economy and create more jobs, and make us even more efficient!

Why does City Council hate China so?
fletc3her, what don't you understand about the fact that companies can still make those checks? It just has to be after an initial screening process rather than during the initial screening process.
@3 So, being a convicted rapist shouldn't be a reason to stop one from working with Cienna? I mean, it's what she wants for the rest of us, so I can only assume she'll be happy with hiring a few rapists around the office, maybe a janitor or two to clean the trash cans while she works late one night? I mean, she's not a fucking hypocrite is she?
I can't help but feel that City Councils are overreaching with legislation like this. This and the sick leave legislation. I agree that both are good practice but, really, should City Councils have that kind of power? It bothers me.
I'm open to hearing opposing points of view on this. I'm open minded about it because, admittedly, this is a knee jerk reaction on my part. So... anyone?
@7 unless it's restricted by the county/state/country/constitution, there's nothing any branch along the way can't do, subject to what they want to pass and enforce. If the city passed a law, whatever that law is, that didn't conflict with a law at a higher level, it's fair game legally.
"employers will hopefully only consider a candidate's criminal history if it pertains to the job"

Hmmmm, so I imagine being a convicted rapist applying for the night shift janitor position at The Stranger will be a shoe-in Cienna? I'm glad you'll have company on those late nights you pull.
How do you define "initial screening process"? What stops businesses from essentially making it part of the first screening by doing some perfunctory sorting of applications and then jumping right to the background check?
This Bruce Harrell has got to go. The most anti-business, big gov't, anti-civil rights politician that I've heard about in a long time.
"How do you define "initial screening process"?"

Will The Stranger be able to consider a convicted rapist's chances for re-offending while emptying the waste baskets late at night in their offices?
litlnemo, I suspect that businesses would find it pretty easy to weasel out of this. Even if some do, though, I think there will still be a net benefit to people with records looking for work in Seattle.

I was also interested to learn (via the link to the bill in the post) that law enforcement positions and jobs working with children, developmentally disabled people, and other "vulnerable persons" are excluded. It's good to highlight that fact since I wager most of the kneejerk anti reactions will be "what about the children?!" Well, the kneejerk anti reactions that aren't aimed at Cienna.
I'm thinking (please correct me if I'm wrong) of the catch-all online applications of Starbucks. Target, etc., that collect the information they need for background checks and, in some cases, automagically run background checks on all applicants and rejecting anyone with a criminal record.

This will require A PERSON to make the call to run a background check, hopefully AFTER an initial person to person interview or a phone screen. At which point, even if there's a criminal record, A PERSON can make the judgement call about moving the applicant forward in the interview or hiring process for what is likely an entry-level, food service, or retail position in which most people wouldn't care if a non-violent offender was employed.
@2/6/9/12 (same person, no doubt): WTH is with all this animosity toward Cienna? (And expressed in the most bluntly misogynistic terms, too...) She's simply *reporting* the news -- she's not editorializing about it. I don't see any place in the article where she expresses her personal opinion for or against the legislation.

Which makes me think this troll's knee-jerk reactions (emphasis on *jerk*) are really just a lame excuse to make ugly threats against Cienna in a public forum. Whatever your trip is -- abusive childhood, sexual insecurity, job jealousy, whatever -- there's no excuse for this kind of crap. Get the psych help you need, or don't... but leave Cienna out of it.
"She's simply *reporting* the news -- she's not editorializing about it. "

Thanks for the laugh.
" just a lame excuse to make ugly threats against Cienna in a public forum"

She supports this legislation so why is it unfair to see if SHE is willing to walk the walk and work with a convicted felon working near her? She seems perfectly willing to put criminals into other people's work spaces, what about a convicted rapist in hers, to site one possibility?
@14 -- One of the few that really understands what this is all about. It prevents generic screening processing on applications (have you ever been convicted of a crime ...). It does nothing about asking the exact same question in an interview. The entire "hire a rapist" line is ridiculous. Consider two scenarios:

1) "Have you ever been convicted of a crime?"

Applicant A: "Actually, yes. I'm not proud of it. But a few years ago I was convicted of selling pot. I wasn't actually selling pot, but my boyfriend had some pot and I was living with him. We both went to jail for a while. I don't smoke pot now (even though it is legal) and I certainly don't sell it. I've kept myself out of trouble, did well in school (see my A. S. degree) and I'm a good, honest worker".

Applicant B: Yeah, I was convicted of rape. But hey, we all make mistakes right?

With this legislation, applicant A has a chance of getting hired. Without it, applicant A gets thrown into a bucket that includes folks who can't fill out the application properly. In other words, they never get a chance to explain themselves. Applicant B, in the meantime, gets told that the interview is over, and that's that.

Oh, and just in case you are wondering, there are way, way more people in jail (and prison) that are like applicant A than applicant B. This is America, after all.
@7, guess what -- City Councils legislate. They have the power -- and the duty -- to legislate. That's who they are.
Gotta agree with @13

Jobs go up, crimes go down, less people in jail, less taxpayer money spent on crap. Everyone wins. Props to Harrell.
I swear, Harrell is the only politician I've heard of who publicly stands up for ex cons. He has my support just for that.
" Applicant B, in the meantime, gets told that the interview is over, and that's that."

So rapists are out? Great news.

WHat about assault, weapons charges, DV or any other kind of violent crime, can those be excluded too? Because you know, most of those homeboys in jail for a dime bag have 'rap' sheets.
"Jobs go up, crimes go down"

Really? Then why did crime continue to decline after the crash in '08? Maybe more jails = less criminals? Just a thought.
1. if you can screen them out later, what's the point? feel good legislation??
2. bottom line, say you have one job, two applicants, equal except one is a previously convicted felon.

if you give the ex con a job, the guy who did not break the law does not get the job. how is this fair?
3. what business doesn't require general law abidingness as part of the basic job requirements???????
4. if you want to be progressive, how about you know, a govt. jobs program, instead of this crazy micromanaging of business decisions then leaving an escape clause anyway later in the process?
5. ex cons deserve jobs, usually, but not above people who are not ex cons. when we don't even have a basic commitment to jobs for non ex cons, it's hard to see why we should favor ex cons.
6. "it lowers the recidivism rate" -- I doubt it and anyway, that's just blackmail isn't it?
I'm glad Harrell took the lead to start tackling this issue. I hope the review in 6 months shows that it has had a positive effect on the employment of people who have committed felonies. People who have paid their debt to society deserve a second chance.
Let's imagine a small business with 12 employees, like (for example) the construction company I owned. Think of how it operated before this law passed, and how it will probably operate after the law passed.

Before the the law passed, this company's owner (me) would occasionally hire an ex-offender. He'd do that mostly out of compassion. Second chances and all that. But he'd do it with his eyes open. He'd have a very frank conversation with the ex-con about his expectations, and about how this was a second chance, and how he'd better not fuck up or he'd be out.

This almost always worked out pretty well. A few ex-cons screwed up and were out, but even they knew they had it coming. Most of the time, the workers were grateful to get the work and the money and a new start.

Now let's jump forward to after the law.

If the owner asks the criminal record question, has the frank discussion, and then doesn't hire the ex-con because his instincts said there was something off about the guy, that ex-con might wind up going to the city. If that happens, then the owner might get a call from city hall, which the owner also has to deal with all the time for permits and inspections. In other words, the same city hall you definitely don't want to piss off.

If the owner gets that call, then his next call is to his lawyer. His lawyer charges $250 an hour, and nothing ever takes less than six or eight hours. So that's $2,000. And the hiring pipeline gets frozen, which can be a big problem. And the owner's time gets eaten up, which is also a big problem seeing as how the owner is usually putting in 12 and 15 and 17 hours a day.

So, now that the law requires the owner to show cause as to why he did not hire an ex-con, what is an owner to do? Let me tell you what an owner is to do. He stops asking about a criminal record. Leaves that question off the application. But he makes sure that before he gets serious about any applicant, he goes online and uses his membership in that background check company to ask about every applicant's criminal record.

Got a felony on your sheet? Now that I might have to show cause for not hiring you if I've asked you about your record, I don't mention anything and I cut you off right away. Bottom line: We never have that frank talk, and some of you never get your second chance from me.

Nice work, city council and Bruce Harrell. You just REDUCED the opportunities for ex-cons by telling business owners who ask the question that they'll have to show cause if they later decide not to hire the guy. There will be no conversation, and there will be no opportunity.
#18, it does NOT "prevent generic screening processing on applications." It does EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE of that. It tells small businesses that they'd better find a way to screen before anyone finds out about it.

The "processing" exists on the Internet. Ever heard of PeopleFinder or Intelius, etc.? Criminal records are available. Harrell's law encourage small businesses to get an account and use it without ever asking the crime question on the application. This avoids the possibility of getting hassled by city hall if you don't hire someone's ex-con brother in law who's got a friend downtown.
To put it differently, you cannot outrun your past. One way or another, people are going to find out. With big companies, job applications are electronic and I'm sure they run them through those services as a matter of routine. All Harrell has done is make small businesses realize that they need to do the same thing. The idea of asking the felony question on a job application, and thereby exposing yourself to legal risk from some "civil rights office," will disappear. But you can be sure that the question will be asked anyway. You'll just never be there to answer it.

Please wait...

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