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Oregon Employers Can No Longer Screen Applicants With Criminal Convictions

Employers in Oregon can no longer use job applications to screen candidates who have a criminal conviction. A so-called “ban the box” law, named after a criminal background check box on job applications, goes into effect Friday.

The bill passed the Oregon Legislature last summer with bipartisan support.

Nkenge Harmon Johnson, president and CEO of the Urban League of Portland, says the new law gives people a chance to talk to employers about their skills and qualifications.

“It’s simple. People who have been incarcerated, once they have served their time and done everything we’ve asked them to do, deserve a chance to have employment to take care of themselves and their families,” she says.

The new state law permits employers to run a background check on candidates and ask them to disclose any past convictions after a first interview.

Portland’s City Council went a step further: A city ordinance passed in November requires employers to wait on background checks until they’ve made a conditional offer of employment.

That law goes into effect July 1, 2016. It includes an exemption for employers who work with children, the elderly and other sensitive groups.

Portland Oregon Legislature

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