Give A Convict A Job

Never has it been more evident that California is in a downward spiral on the verge of economic, social and political collapse — San Francisco is now pushing to make convicted criminals a protected class so that prospective employers cannot inquire about criminal records.

An already precarious business climate in the state is about to get worse.

The San Francisco Human Rights Commission voted unanimously this week to join the Reentry Council of San Francisco and send a letter to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and Mayor Ed Lee “urging them to develop and enact legislation to prohibit discrimination in San Francisco against people with prior arrest and/or convictions.”

Because it is difficult for convicted criminals to find jobs and housing, the Commission is pushing San Francisco officials to instead make criminals out of business owners for asking a perfectly appropriate question during a job interview: “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?”

“The Commission heard testimonies from citizens that have prior arrest and convictions records. They testified to the difficulty they face in securing housing and employment in San Francisco after completing their sentences,” the letter stated.

It’s not so unreasonable that the employer who provides the paycheck, medical benefits, pays employment taxes, workers compensation insurance, and social security for the prospective employee would want to know a little bit about the applicant.

I worked as a Human Resources Manager for more than 20 years and can attest to the vast restrictions on employers surrounding employment law procedures and policies. Running a criminal background check on prospective employees has become a standard employment procedure for more than 80 percent of U.S. employers, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.

People who have screwed up are supposed to pay a price. It’s a long climb back to legal society after committing a crime, and not supposed to be easy.

Lawyers have tied the hands of employers so severely, that many job applicants now volunteer information in order to set themselves apart from less desirable applicants.

At the urging of a labor attorney, I used to give job applicants a short written questionnaire attached to the job application which asked about a criminal record. This gave the applicant a chance to explain any situation in which there was a criminal conviction. Most often, applicants with any criminal record usually had minor drug conviction, which was not a deal killer at our company.

What is left out of most news reports is how many private sector employers offer convicted criminals a second chance. My company was not the exception. While we would give the job applicant a chance to straighten out a past lapse in judgment, there was only one chance given, and only for non-sexual, non-violent crimes. Violent criminals had to reform elsewhere.

Preventing employers from learning about the criminal convictions of job applicants is in direct conflict with OSHA laws as well as other state and federal labor laws requiring all employers to provide a safe workplace.

Once again, the burden has been placed on employers with conflicting laws because of differing political agendas. What are employers supposed to do, and does anyone in government even care?

Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New Mexico, and the cities of Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago and Philadelphia have already instituted policies making it illegal for employers to inquire about job applicants’ criminal convictions, chipping away at the importance of accountability, and respect for the law.

Most people outside of San Francisco already think that its politicians are stark raving mad. Attempts to ban circumcision, a ban on the Happy Meal and fast food toys, plastic bags, pet goldfish, styrofoam, cell phone radiation laws, and attempts to stop “impulse purchases” are proof. Even prostitutes in San Francisco “are not obliged to make change for bills larger than $50.”

And now employers will not be able to ask job applicants about prior criminal records.

The utopian, liberal insanity has spread throughout California like a fungus in a locker room shower, usually originating in San Francisco, Berkeley or Davis.

And while the batty utopian types are dreaming up new ways to level the playing field for California’s deadbeats, failures and social victims, the taxpayers are going broke or moving out of state.

I am beginning to think that the weather anywhere else in the world is better than California’s.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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