Date of Degree

2-2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Criminal Justice

Advisor

Lila Kazemian

Committee Members

Jeff Mellow

Jeremy Porter

Subject Categories

Civil Rights and Discrimination | Criminology | Labor and Employment Law | Law and Race | Law and Society | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration

Keywords

Ban the Box, criminal records based employment discrimination, criminal background checks, fair chance hiring, collateral consequences, employer perspectives on hiring individuals with a criminal record

Abstract

This dissertation investigates whether NYC employers adhered to Ban the Box by removing the question about criminal history from employment forms, by refraining from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal record during the interview process, and by complying with other aspects of the policy. The study also documents employer perspectives on Ban the Box and on the hiring of individuals with criminal convictions, and examines whether more individuals with a criminal record were hired after the policy was implemented.

Using a mixed-methods approach, surveys were administered to companies in the nonprofit and private sectors, and semi-structured interviews were conducted with a subset of these employers. The study found that nearly one-third of the employers did not ban the box, and some continued to inquire about an applicant’s criminal history at an earlier stage than what is permitted by the law. When employers did remove the criminal history question from the job application, they were less susceptible to violating other provisions of Ban the Box, such as performing an Internet search for an applicant’s criminal record. The majority of employers reported that Ban the Box did not negatively impact the hiring process and that they were generally receptive to hiring individuals with a criminal record, with the exception of those with “objectionable” convictions. In addition, employers seldom collected data about screening and job offers to this population, highlighting one of the main challenges in assessing the policy’s overall effectiveness. Because the city does not mandate agencies to document these data, it remains challenging to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the effectiveness of Ban the Box.

The study findings highlight important practical implications relating to Ban the Box and other similar policies. Given the confusion resulting from the limited guidance offered about the policy, and because some agencies lacked sufficient human resource experience to implement new administrative initiatives, employers were sometimes unsure if they had in fact complied with Ban the Box. The study exposed the need for wider dissemination of informational material about Ban the Box, training on best practices regarding the hiring of individuals with a criminal record, and a reliable mechanism for data collection.

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