Felony job applicants

It is a worthwhile goal to put ex-felons to work, so as to reduce the chance that they will resort again to crime.

The pursuit of this goal, however, should not be used to hamstring an employer’s legitimate need to know pertinent information about job applicants, including whether they have been convicted of felonies in the past.

At least 24 states and the District of Columbia now bar employers from including that question on job application forms. Other states, such as Oklahoma, have left private employers alone but have applied such a ban to government agencies.

If an employer wants to overlook an applicant’s serious past mistakes, good for the employer. But it should be up to the employer to make that decision, not the government to make it for him.

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Cathy Haynie, head of school at Christ Covenant School, is serving JAAIS (Jackson Area Association of Independent Schools) as president this year.