Dallas City Council members are considering a Fair Chance ordinance that would forbid private employers from asking job seekers about criminal history on initial applications.
Background checks would be allowed later in the hiring process.
The city of Dallas already has this policy for hiring many city workers, except for those positions for whom a criminal history is an immediate rejection, like police.
The city of DeSoto already has a similar law in place that extends to private businesses.
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Big Tony’s Cheese Steak restaurant on Hampton Road in DeSoto follows the rule and workers who spoke Monday support it.
“Some crimes may be worse than others, but everyone deserves a chance to redeem themselves, I personally believe. And I personally haven’t been affected by it, but I know others who have and I think they really do deserve that chance,” employee Jamereian Fininen said.
Dallas City Council members discussing the plan Monday have their own personal backgrounds.
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Councilmember Chad West said he owns car wash businesses.
“As a business owner I'm still going to want to know before I hire somebody if they have a criminal history or not and what that is,” West said. “I think I have a duty to my company, my investors, my customers and other employees to just vet everybody out.”
Adam Bazaldua, Chairman of the City Council Quality of Life Committee that’s considering the law, said his father got a job 37 years ago, even though he was a felon.
“If that chance had not been afforded to my dad with his past and time at Huntsville, my family would probably not have had the opportunities that I had,” Bazaldua said.
Councilmember Omar Narvaez said he has a younger brother who is a convicted felon and he has another piece of background that makes him support this change.
“I used to work for a company as a hiring manager and in that company, we were told if somebody checked that box it was automatically put into a ‘no’ pile,” he said.
One of the applicants was a man charged for having two marijuana joints in his pocket. Narvaez said he pushed for hiring the man despite that record and he turned out to be a great employee.
All Dallas employers with 15 or more workers would be asked to follow the new practice under the proposed law.
“I think this is a tremendous opportunity for us to move toward opening doors against any kind of subjective barriers,” Councilmember Jaynie Schultz said.
But Dallas councilmembers were not ready for a final vote.
Paula Blackmon said the proposed $500 fine for violators may not be enough to gain compliance.
“It is the details and the wording that matter. I just feel this is the first of good conversation,” Blackmon said.
In Texas, Austin also has a Fair Chance law that covers private businesses.
Some variation is in effect in 150 cities and counties and 37 states around the U.S.
“Everyone deserves that chance to better themselves so it should be the law,” Fininen said.
The DeSoto Chamber of Commerce has supported the law.
Dallas officials said they would return to the Quality of Life Committee with additional revisions and clarification for a future vote.