Bad idea for Target not to ask for criminal history

By Andrea Jimenez

An article on the Huffington Post published on Oct. 29 stated Target was planning to dismiss criminal background questions in job applications.

The final decision on whether to do so is still being discussed.

An emailed statement was released from Target’s spokeswomen Molly Synder and said, “Target is an industry leader in developing a nuanced criminal background check process that gives qualified applicants with a criminal history a second chance while maintaining the safety of our guests, team members and protecting our property.”

Although Target is willing to give individuals a second chance, the fact of the matter is, how can an employer trust an individual who has robbed a bank to work as a cashier or an individual who has gone to jail for using prescription drugs to work in the pharmacy?

Criminal background checks are administered for a reason: to prevent future destruction and to protect the safety of the community.

Target’s decision was inspired by Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton’s signing of the “Ban the Box” legislation. The legislation seeked to ban the box on a job application that prompts an applicant to check it if they have committed a felony or misdemeanor.

The legislation goes into effect next year and will make it illegal for Minnesota employers to ask a job applicant’s criminal history before beginning an interview.

According to the Huffington Post article, last year the “Ban the Box” legislation was recognized by the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and it “clarified that a potential employee should not be turned down solely because of a prior conviction.”

With that in mind, an individual with a molestation conviction should not be offered a job as an elementary school teacher.

If the conviction does not affect the demands of the job then, sure, why shouldn’t an ex-offender have an opportunity to work and make a living?

However, it’s unnecessary for Target to remove its criminal history question on a job application because once a candidate is chosen for an interview he or she will have to address the question anyway.

Whether the employer chooses to hire an individual with a criminal history is their own decision.

“Banning the box” will allow individuals with a criminal history the opportunity to be interviewed and acknowledged for their skills and qualifications-first, but ultimately most employers do not have interest in hiring an offender.

Amof.info, a website established for the cause of keeping background checks, states 39 percent of all background checks have at least one serious flag. This is why pre-employment screening is an essential tool.

As a society, it is our responsibility to recognize potential harm, especially in the workplace and especially where customer service exists.

Caroline Syms a writer for The Michigan Daily, wrote an opinion titled, “Do the crime, pay the time” stating, “When an individual breaks these rules and is convicted of a crime, they must face the consequences- no matter what.”

As humans, we make mistakes and sometimes those individuals who have made mistakes are indeed remorseful of their previous wrongdoing, but employers have the right to know the history of the person they could potentially hire.

Needless to say, what about those who abide by the law, apply for a job and are not hired because the employer decided to hire the prior offender? It does not seem fair for the individual who has done nothing criminally wrong.

Target’s approval of this legislature will only serve as an initial blinder for Target from individuals who have criminal backgrounds.

The “Ban the box” movement does not change the outcome of the situation; all it does is repress and delay the real problem until the interview phase of the hiring process.

Bad idea for Target not to ask for criminal history

Bad idea for Target not to ask for criminal history

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