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OHR Releases Report on Enforcement of DC’s “Ban the Box” Law
Report highlights successes of the Fair Criminal Record Screening Amendment Act
(WASHINGTON, DC) – Today, the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights (OHR) released its first report on the enforcement of the Fair Criminal Record Screening Amendment Act of 2014, commonly known as the Ban the Box law. The report highlights the work OHR has done since the law was enacted in 2014, detailing OHR’s community outreach to individuals and businesses, the number of complaints filed with OHR, and the law’s profound impact on the District’s returning citizens.
As of September 2018, OHR had received 1,824 initial Ban the Box complaints since the law’s enactment. The majority of those complaints (1,079) alleged the unlawful usage of criminal background questions on job applications. Out of those total number of complaints, OHR docketed 1,151 charges of discrimination under Ban the Box with 944 of those cases being either resolved or closed by the end of FY 18.
Docketed cases refer to charges of discrimination filed with OHR that meet all legal requirements and proceed to mediation and/or investigation by the agency. OHR case resolution or closure types include but are not limited to: settlement via mediation, conciliation or other agreements between parties; “no cause” findings that conclude no violation of the law occurred; or administrative closure by OHR without investigation such as the withdrawal of a case by the complainant.
“The District’s Ban the Box law has become a model for the rest of the country,” said OHR Director Mónica Palacio. “Through persistent advocacy by leaders in the returning citizens community and Mayor Bowser’s leadership, we are working to ensure our returning citizens are given a fair shot at employment, free of the discrimination or bias they may have historically faced.”
The OHR report also includes statistical analysis supported by interviews with returning citizens, employment specialists, business owners, and community members. These interviews provided greater perspective of the impact of the Ban the Box law on people’s lives. For future reports, OHR will use a compliance tracking component for employers who have made changes to their job application and interview processes.
“Ban the Box gives candidates an opportunity to get in front of the employer and sell themselves as opposed to being cast with the stigma of a returning citizen,” said Ed Moody, a Program Navigator with the DC Department of Employment Services. “The law definitely makes a difference because while in the past our clients would have received an automatic rejection, they’re now getting their foot in the door and the opportunity to interview for the job. That alone is a win.”
For more information about the Office of Human Rights, Ban the Box, or to download the full report, visit ohr.dc.gov/page/fcrsareport/2019.
About the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights
The District of Columbia Office of Human Rights (OHR) was established to eradicate discrimination, increase equal opportunity and protect human rights for persons who live in or visit the District of Columbia. The agency enforces local and federal human rights laws, including the DC Human Rights Act, by providing a legal process to those who believe they have been discriminated against. OHR also proactively enforces human rights in the District through Director’s Inquiries, which allow it to identify and investigate practices and policies that may be discriminatory.