Cummings Lauds Obama Administration Action to Ban the Box in Federal Hiring

Apr 29, 2016
Press Release

Cummings Lauds Obama Administration Action to Ban the Box in Federal Hiring

Cummings Co-Led Letter to President Calling for Action  and Introduced Bipartisan Fair Chance Act Last Year

Washington, D.C. (Apr. 29, 2016)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, issued the following statement lauding plans by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to propose a rule on Monday to bring fair chance policies to federal hiring:

“I applaud the President for seeking to implement fair chance hiring policies across federal agencies.  What a fitting way to recognize National Reentry Week.  While we have been working hard in Congress to ban the box across all three branches of government and federal contractors, we have faced roadblocks.  That is why I urged the President to act where he could, and why I welcome this step.  I look forward to working with the Administration and stakeholders nationwide to ensure that a criminal record does not become a life sentence.”

Currently, federal regulations do not prevent federal employers from asking formerly-incarcerated applicants about their past crimes at any stage of a job interview.  The proposed rule would apply to federal agency hiring processes for competitive service positions.  It would require agencies to wait to ask about criminal histories until applicants are given conditional employment offers.  The rule would also allow agencies to request exceptions if they can demonstrate job-specific reasons to ask for the information earlier in the process.

Cummings led the House introduction of the bipartisan, bicameral Fair Chance Act in September of last year, which would put into statute the requirement that the government wait to ask about criminal histories until applicants receive conditional employment offers.  The bill would also extend to the other two branches of the federal government, as well as prime contractors, and includes exceptions for positions related to classified information, law enforcement, national security, and the armed forces.

Last week, Cummings, Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA), and 50 House Members sent a letter to President Obama urging him to take steps to solidify fair chance hiring policies in the federal government and to extend the policies to federal contractors.  Cummings also joined a letter led by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) last May urging the President to act.

More than 70 million Americans who have criminal histories are faced with the daunting task of securing employment. They face improbable odds in obtaining jobs as a result of arrests or convictions.  Studies show that a criminal record reduces the likelihood of a callback or job offer by nearly 50% for men.  African-American men with criminal records have been 60% less likely to receive callbacks or job offers than those without records.  For individuals trying to turn the page on a difficult chapter in their lives, criminal convictions pose a substantial barrier to employment.

114th Congress