The Oregon House has advanced legislation to ban employers to ask about criminal convictions on their initial job applications.
The 33-27 vote Wednesday, largely on party lines and taken after a 90-minute debate, moved House Bill 3025 to the Senate.
About one-third of the states have similar legislation known as “ban the box,” according to the National Employment Law Project. Most of those laws apply only to government employment, but six states extend it to all employers.
Portland and Multnomah County have such bans applying to government employment. A work group set up by the Portland City Council is considering how the city ordinance, originally adopted last year, may extend to private employers.
Rep. Rob Nosse, the bill’s floor manager, said the bill still allows the question to be raised during an interview – and does not bar criminal background checks.
“All these Oregonians are asking for is a fair chance to explain to potential employers why they are qualified for the job,” the Portland Democrat said.
“They should be given the ability to explain what they can bring to an employer’s business and not be faced with potential discrimination because of something that happened that represents what is probably one of the worst moments of their lives.”
But House Republican Leader Mike McLane of Powell Butte said many businesses – including Koch Industries, one of the nation’s largest privately held companies – are abandoning the question on initial job applications.
Koch Industries did so last month, although it was disclosed earlier this week.
“Our private sector is making changes all the time,” McLane said.
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