Target Wants to Hire More Ex-Offenders? Minnesota-based Company is Banning the Box.

Angela Preston

Target to Ban the Box on Criminal Background Checks

In an effort to hire more ex-offenders, Minnesota-based Target Corporation has announced they are banning the box. The national retailer announced that it will be eliminating the box on the job application that asks the candidate about criminal history. Target Vice President, Jim Rowader announced that the new policy will go into effect for all U.S. applicants.

On May 13, 2013, the state of Minnesota passed a law expanding the state’s ban the box law to include private employers. The new law goes into effect January 1, 2014 and will prevent employers from conducting a criminal background check until later in the hiring process. For more details on the specifics of this law, read our post here. Target has decided to proactively take the step of implementing the policy on a national level, even though it is not required in most states.

In a report by Minneapolis Public Radio, Target is planning to work with a Minneapolis-based group Council on Crime and Justice to increase the company’s hiring of ex-offenders. In addition, Rowander announced the decision while participating as a panelist at a forum addressing unemployment among ex-offenders, organized by the advocacy group Take Action Minnesota.

This move is not surprising. You might recall that the NAACP and Take Action Minnesota previously accused Target of unfair hiring practices through ten formal complaints filed earlier this year with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). At issue were the company’s background screening policies and the impact of background checks on minorities. For more details, take a look at our story from February here. The new policy is timely since Target is currently under the microscope of the EEOC, an organization that tends to favor ban the box.

While the company’s motives may not be completely altruistic, I respect the initiative to diversify their workforce and provide opportunities for ex-offenders.  At the same time, I wonder if this might be the start of a trend for companies that choose to implement a national policy rather than try to manage the patchwork of laws that differ dramatically from state to state and even at the city level.

Is your company banning the box? Join the conversation and let us know your position.

Want to learn more about the ban the box movement? Watch our video:










Angela Preston
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Angela Preston

Vice President of Compliance & General Counsel at EmployeeScreenIQ
Angela Preston has more than 20 years as a licensed attorney and over 10 years in the background screening area. She serves on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), is a member of the NAPBS Background Screening Credentialing Council (BSCC), and is actively involved in the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and ASIS International. Angela is also a member of the Ohio State and Columbus Bar Associations. Angela has direct oversight and management of compliance programs, and will provide guidance in complex legal matters including state and federal legislation, EEO law, client education, adjudication, pre/adverse action process, NAPBS Accreditation and client and vendor contract management.
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