U.S House Passes the Fair Chance Act as Part of Defense Bill

Washington, DC—Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed, as part of the defense authorization bill, the Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Act of 2019, which would prohibit federal agencies and private-sector federal contractors from asking about job applicants’ arrest and conviction record until later in the hiring process—an approach advanced by directly impacted advocates known as “ban the box.”

The bill, as detailed in the joint conference report (H. Rept. 116-333) released on Monday, now heads to the Senate for a final vote.

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“By requiring employers to hold off on asking job applicants about their conviction records until after a conditional job offer has been made, more than 700,000 Americans will gain a fairer chance at finding employment and securing a better future for themselves and their families,” said Maurice Emsellem, fair chance program director with the National Employment Law Project (NELP).

The expected passage of the Fair Chance Act (H.R.1076/S.387) was made possible by the strong bipartisan backing of criminal justice reform leaders in Congress, including Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Ron Johnson (R-WI), Congressman Doug Collins (R-GA), and the late Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD).

“Congressman Cummings’s exceptional legacy will live on in the form of the landmark racial and economic justice laws he championed, including the Fair Chance Act,” said Mr. Emsellem.

NELP, which has been actively involved in the campaign since the bill was first introduced in 2016, is available to provide the media with more background on the Fair Chance Act and its impact on people seeking work with an arrest or conviction record.

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