BATON ROUGE, LA—The East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council voted 7-5 to approve an ordinance Wednesday that will require employers receiving money from the Parish to engage in “fair chance” hiring practices. The policy builds on a 2016 ordinance aimed at providing opportunities to apply for Parish jobs to formerly incarcerated persons or people with former convictions and expands it to cover public contractors as well. Under the ordinance, these employers will be required to first consider applicants on their merits—removing the “prior conviction box” from application forms and only conducting a background check if a conditional offer is presented.
“A prior conviction should not be a scarlet letter that causes employers to shut the door on qualified job applicants,” said Lynda Turner, Baton Rouge Fair Chance member, who is formerly incarcerated. “This ordinance means more Baton Rouge residents will get a fair chance to rebuild their lives and support their families. We have a long way to go to erase the stigma of criminalization and build the systems of rehabilitation our community needs, but seven councilmembers showed real leadership today by supporting Fair Chance Hiring.”
Wednesday’s ordinance was sponsored by Chauna Banks and was supported by The Baton Rouge Fair Chance Coalition, a group of community organizations devoted to opening opportunities for Baton Rouge residents excluded from the labor market by past convictions.