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The downside of ban the box on minority employment

Many states including California have policies that limit which employers can perform criminal background checks on job applicants. In some of those states, the practice is banned entirely. However, policies collectively referred to as "ban the box" may actually do harm to minorities who are seeking work. According to a joint study conducted by professors in Virginia and Oregon, such policies have lowered the odds of black or Hispanic men without college degrees finding employment.

For black men, their probability of finding work in areas with ban the box policies decreases by 3.4 percent. The odds drop by 2.3 percent for Hispanic men without a college degree. Statistically, young black and Hispanic men are more likely to have a criminal record. Therefore, employers are likely to use that as a guide if they can't actually tell if an applicant has a criminal record or not.

While this is generally considered to be illegal, it can be hard to prove that such discrimination is taking place. However, those who study the issue say that providing employers with more information may make it easier for minorities to get hired. They also acknowledge that employers may have legitimate concerns about those with a criminal record, which could be allayed through additional information.

People who feel that they have been the victim of race discrimination during the job application or interview process may want to meet with an attorney to see what recourse they may have. In addition to race, employers are generally not allowed to discriminate against applicants based on gender, religion or other protected categories.

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