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Banning the box may cause discrimination

Houston job seekers may be interested in some statistics on ban the box policies, which aim to reduce job discrimination against people with criminal records. According to some researchers, these policies may actually increase job discrimination against certain groups.

Ban the box refers to a checkbox on job applications that indicates that an applicant has a criminal record. Legislation in some jurisdictions forbids employers from asking about convictions on their job applications. While the goal of these policies is to eliminate discrimination towards applicants who would put a check mark in such a box if it existed, two researchers believe that without knowing about applicants' criminal backgrounds, employers might use race as a guideline when deciding who to hire.

Blacks and Hispanics are more likely than whites to serve jail time at some point during their lives. The researchers say that because of this, some employers could be avoiding hiring black and Hispanics because they see them as more likely to be ex-offenders. The research showed that ban the box policies reduced the employment probability of black and Hispanic men without college degrees who were between the ages of 25 and 34. The effect was less, however, in areas of the country with larger black and Hispanic populations.

The researchers, who analyzed data from 2004 to 2014, also noted that during times of high unemployment ban the box increased employment probability for black, educated women and older, low-skilled black men. But overall, the researchers conclude that these policies could be replaced with more effective methods.

Employment discrimination is for the most part prohibited at the application and interview stages just as it is at the workplace. People who feel that they have been the victims of this type of behavior may want to meet with an attorney to learn about the rights that they may have.

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