D.C.

D.C. Council members seek to block job discrimination against convicts

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(WJLA) - D.C. Councilman and mayoral hopeful Tommy Wells is hoping to end discrimination against convicts trying to reenter the workforce with a new bill aimed at curbing the practice.

Dubbed "banning the box," Wells is being joined by several members of the D.C. Council - including Council Chairman Phil Mendelson - to introduce legislation that bans employers from disqualifying job applicants solely based on their criminal history.

Wells is joined by Mendelson, Vincent Orange, Kenyan McDuffie, Jim Graham, Anita Bonds and Marion Barry in saying that people who are coming out of incerceration are far more likely to be locked up again without employment. Under their new bill, employers in the District would not be allowed to ask about conviction or arrest records until after employment is offered.

"For far too long, returning citizens have been discriminated against and unreasonably denied jobs for which they are otherwise qualified," Wells said in a statement.

Ten other states have put similar legislation into place. A D.C. government report indicates that more than three-quarters of job applicants with criminal records were suitable for city jobs.

The legislation does not require employers to actually hire the applicants with records.

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