The Dallas City Council is considering joining the growing ban the box movement with the introduction of a Fair Chance Hiring ordinance. As introduced, this law would apply to certain private employers in Dallas, TX.
According to the proposed law, the term employer includes:
- “A person, company, corporation, firm, labor organization or association that employs at least 15 individuals who worked in the city each working day for 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year. The term includes an agency acting on behalf of an employer. The term also includes the city. The term does not include:
- The United States government, any of its departments or agencies, or any corporation wholly owned by it;
- The government of the State of Texas or any of its departments, agencies, or political subdivisions; or
- An organization that is exempt from taxation under Section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code”
The proposed law states that “An employer commits a violation if the employer inquires about an applicant’s criminal history on an initial job application.”
Like other local “Ban-the-Box” style laws, the proposed law includes penalties for violations. The Dallas law proposes that an employer that violates the law the first time may be issued a written warning. This warning would also notify the employer that a civil penalty may be imposed for subsequent violations. Following a written warning, if that employer violates the law again, they would be subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $500 for each sequential offense.
One of the Dallas City Council members, Chad West, owns a car wash business. In an interview with NBC Dallas they said, “As a business owner I’m still going to want to know before I hire somebody if they have a criminal history or not and what that is., I think I have a duty to my company, my investors, my customers, and other employees to just vet everybody out.”
Some of the other council members even have personal reasons for standing behind this proposed law. Adam Bazaldua, Chairman of the City Council Quality of Life Committee that’s considering the law, said his father got a job 37 years ago, even though he was a felon. “If that chance had not been afforded to my dad with his past and time at Huntsville, my family would probably not have had the opportunities that I had,” Bazaldua said. Council member Omar Narvaez, who supports the change, has a younger brother that is a convicted felon. Narvaez said, “I used to work for a company as a hiring manager and in that company, we were told if somebody checked that box it was automatically put into a ‘no’ pile.”
There are also exceptions within the proposed law:
- It would not apply to a situation in which a candidate might be disqualified based on the individual’s criminal history under a federal, state, or local law, pursuant to a federal, state, or local agency or commission rule or regulation, or compliance with a legally mandated insurance or bond requirement.
- It would not limit an employer’s right to make a hiring decision for any lawful reason, including the decision that a candidate is unsuitable for the job based on an assessment of that applicant’s criminal history.
- It would not limit an employer’s right to post a list of criminal convictions that may disqualify an applicant from employment.
This Dallas Fair Chance Act is in the early stages of review and remains in committee for consideration. The legislative process may change portions of this law. Verified Credentials will continue to monitor and provide updates on this pending ordinance.