Richmond council unanimously supports ‘fair chance’ employment bill

Richmond council unanimously supports 'fair chance' employment bill

Richmond City Council voted unanimously last week to support state legislation that would prohibit employers from inquiring into a job applicant’s conviction history until after the applicant has received a conditional offer.

On Tuesday, the council voted in favor of having city staff write a letter to state officials in support of AB 1008, otherwise known as the Fair Chance Act.

Councilmember Gayle Mclaughlin called the legislation an extension of “ban the box” policies that Richmond has pioneered as a city.

In 2011, the council voted to “ban the box” — the place where applicants are asked to check-mark if they have a past conviction — on city applications. Two years later, the city moved to require contractors working on city projects to also ban the box, and also similar policy was enacted for state jobs (AB 218).

“The Richmond city council has been the leader in ban of the box policies,” Mclaughlin said.

AB 1008 is aimed at reducing the barriers to employment for residents with past convictions. According to Mclaughlin and Vice Mayor Jovanka Beckles, nearly one in three adults in the state have an arrest or conviction record.