Exciting news today that Target, one of the United States’ largest corporations and employers, has “banned the box” from its employment applications, meaning that it will not ask people about their criminal records in their initial job application. Target nevertheless reserved the right to ask about criminal backgrounds after the completion of an applicant’s first interview.
The announcement represents an important victory for the grassroots community group TakeAction Minnesota, which had been pressuring the company to change. Congratulations to TakeAction Minnesota on their incredible work, which will have a positive impact on the 65 million people across the country with criminal records who are hoping to join the job force. A Target spokeswoman said, ‘Target is an industry leader in developing a nuanced criminal background check process that gives qualified applicants with a criminal history a second chance while maintaining the safety of our guests, team members and protecting our property.’
The change at Target comes on the heels of other big changes around the country and the state of California. Earlier this month in California, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a ban-the-box bill that applies to government employers. Ten states and more than 50 U.S. cities have passed “Ban the Box” legislation, according to the National Employment Law Project. In 2012 the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission expanded and updated a ruling that barred employers from automatically denying people jobs based on arrest or conviction records. The E.E.O.C. guidance made clear that an arrest alone is not proof of illegal conduct or grounds for exclusion from employment. It also explained that employers need to take into account three factors: (1) the seriousness of the offense, (2) the time that has passed since it was committed and (3) the relevance of the crime to the job being sought.
We hope that that this is just the beginning of a sea change in employment practices, and that other large corporations follow Target’s footsteps, making the choice to “ban the box” because it is the RIGHT thing to do. For now, it’s a small victory for the 65 million people in the U.S. with criminal records, their families, communities, and a sign of our country moving in the right direction. And it’s a good reason to feel better about doing some Target holiday shopping!