Best Practices in Fair-Chance Enforcement

by Zoe Polk, Director of Policy and Social Justice, San Francisco Human Rights Commission

An estimated 70 million people in the United States—nearly one in three adults—have arrest or conviction records. Many are discouraged from applying for work due to the application “check-box” asking about criminal history. The “box” becomes an even greater barrier when employers toss out all the applications with the checked box, arbitrarily narrowing the pool of jobseekers without regard to qualifications.

Removing conviction inquiries from job applications is known as “ban the box.” Fair-chance hiring policies include ban-the-box and other policies that create a structured hiring process to ease barriers.

Takeaways from San Francisco, Seattle, and the District of Columbia

Although each of the three jurisdictions have variations in their fair-hiring laws and are at different stages of implementation and enforcement, common themes arise. From these local experiences, we have identified the best practices for government agencies invested in upholding the civil rights, human rights, or labor standards of their local communities.

Case studies of fair-chance hiring laws from San Francisco, Seattle, and the District of Columbia are available in this companion policy brief.

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