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Saturday, October 31, 2020

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Kansas governor issues ban-the-box order on state agency applications

Kansas governor issues ban-the-box order on state agency applications

On May 2, 2018, Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer signed a "ban-the-box" order preventing state agencies from requiring job seekers to disclose on applications whether they've been convicted of a crime, according to a media release from the office of the governor's website.

 Via Executive Order 18-12, all executive branch departments, agencies, boards and commissions under governmental jurisdiction cannot ask candidates about their criminal record during the initial stage of a state employment application. The order notes the difficulties ex-offenders encounter when attempting to reintegrate into the workforce, among them automatic disqualification from a job upon the reveal of a criminal record.

“Studies have shown that gainful employment is a major factor in reducing recidivism rate among former offenders,” Colyer said in a statement. “This is simply about treating people as individuals and allowing them to explain their circumstances at a later point in the process."

More specifically, the executive order states:

* Within ninety (90) days of the date of this order, all Executive Branch departments, agencies, boards, and commissions under the jurisdiction of the Office of the Governor shall take action to ensure that, during the initial stage of a state employment application, job applicants shall not be asked whether they have a criminal record, and a criminal record shall not automatically disqualify an applicant from receiving an interview.

*Nothing in this Order shall prevent the conduct of a criminal background check as a condition of employment.

* This Order is intended to supplement existing laws and regulations concerning State of Kansas employment practices, and shall not be interpreted to in any way diminish such laws and regulations. The Order is not intended to create any new right or benefit enforceable against the State of Kansas.

Additionally, the order does not prevent employers "from conducting criminal background checks or from excluding such applicants if a law or regulation prohibits those with criminal records from holding that specific position."

Ban-the-box refers to the box applicants are asked to check if they have previous convictions. Through legislation, some jurisdictions have made it illegal for employers to ask would-be hires about convictions until the interview stage, while others ban the practice until a conditional job offer has been made. Kansas becomes the 32nd state to adopt some form of ban-the-box policy, bringing new attention to the debate around a candidate's criminal history, and whether that discussion can be delayed until later in the hiring process.

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