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.


  1. “Hire Felons First” is a great idea! I think it will contribute a lot toward the judicial industry with all the subsequent lawsuits by customers, rejected and fired employees, employers, and other people ho feel that their safe-space is being violated or encroached upon.

    Seriously, there are a lot of convicted felons whose former crimes should or would in no way effect their job performance. Hiring a man convicted of domestic violence doesn’t affect them if they are hired as an accountant, but might if they are hired by a shelter for abused women. Similarly, a former serial embezzler would be in no way affected in their job performance at said shelter, but they might not be the right hire as an accountant or book keeper.

    But, employers won’t know what type of felony (or any) the prospective employee has committed, so they will not be able to make a pragmatic hiring decision. I wonder if the City will be sued a lot when this policy results in crimes by new employees? That’s OK, Richmond has plenty of money to defend itself from lawsuits.

  2. I may be mistaken but I believe how this will work is that the employer will still have a chance to ask about their conviction records and still decide whether to hire the person or not, it just gives the applicant a chance to make it to the next level of the process before revealing their past convictions.
    I do share the concern that we don’t go too far and disincentivize people to respect the law to begin with, like we did some some of our well intended social policies over the last 50 years or so.