Atlanta Council passes ‘Ban the Box’ legislation


People seeking work with the city of Atlanta no longer need to disclose prior convictions on job applications.

The Atlanta City Council adopted legislation this week banning a requirement for people with criminal convictions to disclose that information to the city on a job application.

The ordinance, sponsored by District 2 Councilman Kwanza Hall and several others, codifies a practice that Mayor Kasim Reed implemented in recent years.

Hall, who is traveling in Serbia this week for a conference, said the legislation “helps level the playing field for job applicants to the city of Atlanta and gives more people an opportunity to demonstrate their qualifications for city employment.”

Atlanta is among the latest to endorse a national movement that seeks to end job discrimination based on prior convictions. The national campaign, dubbed “Ban the Box,” was begun 10 years ago by people with criminal records who say they were discriminated against by potential employers because of those crimes. According to the Ban the Box website, the group is focused on government agencies as a starting point for change.

The Atlanta ordinance carves out exceptions for those seeking positions that require state or federal background checks, such as public safety jobs or for those working with children.

Xochitl Bervera, co-director of the Racial Justice Action Center, said that employment is the primary hurdle for people upon leaving prison or jail, and impacts whether they are likely to be re-incarcerated. While applicants will no longer be asked to indicate prior convictions, nothing prohibits the city from conducting its own background check later in the process, she said. The legislation provides guidance on how such information should be used.

“I think our hope is that people who have prior convictions will feel confident in applying for jobs at the city of Atlanta, and that we’ll see a rise in people who are qualified, skilled and want to be working,” she said.

She’s now calling on city vendors to implement similar bans in their respective businesses.

Fulton County adopted “ban the box” legislation earlier this year, and supporters plan to rally Gov. Nathan Deal to issue an executive order on the matter later this month, she said. Deal has previously signaled support for the initiative.

Marilynn Winn, with a grassroots organization of women with prior convictions called Women on the Rise, also applauded the move. She said she’s experienced first-hand the negative effects of disclosing past crimes on a job application.

“I may have all the skills and qualifications, but if I’m asked to check that box, I can’t even get an interview,” she said in a statement. “Everybody deserves the chance to work and put food on their table and a roof over their head.”


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Atlanta mayoral race to heat up next week with qualifying
Atlanta mayoral race to heat up next week with qualifying

Which candidate has the staying power in the race to replace Kasim Reed as Atlanta mayor could get more clarity next week as qualifying starts on Tuesday. Eight major candidates and several minor office seekers must file notice of their candidacy and pay a roughly $5,500 qualifying fee to the city’s Municipal Clerk’s Office by 4:30 p.m...
A Georgia regulator on why finishing Vogtle is a matter of national security
A Georgia regulator on why finishing Vogtle is a matter of national security

Photo from Plant Vogtle construction site on Thursday, May 11, 2016. Johnny Edwards / AJC The troubled construction of two nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle is now the only commercial nuclear project underway in the nation, and Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols has been one of the most forceful advocates of keeping it alive ...
These metro Atlanta suburbs can now have groceries delivered to them
These metro Atlanta suburbs can now have groceries delivered to them

A online service that offers same-day grocery delivery is expanding its coverage area to encompass nearly 495,000 more metro Atlanta homes. Instacart will begin serving the 51 new zip codes Thursday.  The coverage area will now include certain parts of cities like Smyrna, Snellville, Stone Mountain, Woodstock, Hiram, Douglasville, Jonesboro...
A Marlow’s Tavern in Atlanta fails a recent health inspection
A Marlow’s Tavern in Atlanta fails a recent health inspection

A location of a popular restaurant chain failed a recent health inspection, Fulton County records show. Marlow’s Tavern in Midtown scored a 60/U following the Thursday evaluation. Scores below 70 are considered failing. Its prior score, from May 2016, was a 90/A. The restaurant chain has multiple locations in Georgia and Florida. According...
Gwinnett man sentenced to 30 years for statutory rape
Gwinnett man sentenced to 30 years for statutory rape

A 48-year-old Gwinnett County man will serve 20 years in prison after having sex two years ago with a then-14-year-old girl in a Snellville hotel room. Sergio Michaelangelo Paul was convicted of statutory rape and enticing a child for indecent purposes on Aug. 16 after a two-day trial. He was acquitted of two charges of aggravated child molestation...
More Stories