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NOLA Government Pitch to Change Criminal Background Checks

A proposal by the administration of New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu advocates taking more of a ‘wait and see attitude’ when it comes to whether certain kinds of legal histories will disqualify candidates for public service jobs.

November 18 coverage in the Times-Picayune online shows the city’s Civil Service Commission has reviewed a policy request that would do away with some early flagging of criminal records on job application forms.

Although it’s not a substantial policy change in terms of how background checks are used, the change would allow a job applicant to get his or her foot in the door without being screened out because of various kinds of past convictions. Proponents say it’s part of giving a greater population a chance at professional development and economic prosperity.

Employment – The Bigger Context

Reports show that the proposal would make sense in terms of what’s done in other big cities around the country, and that it follows U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines. A New Orleans car accident lawyer or someone who has represented defendants from different kinds of non-violent offenses might also say that it’s part of avoiding a punitive approach that affects the defendant unfairly throughout his or her future life in terms of opportunities for advancement.

Delaying this kind of basic red flag system would give human resources managers more of a responsibility to thoroughly review an individual application. Hiring managers and others would eventually look at exactly what a candidate was convicted of, and more of the context around any previous criminal history. For example, some kinds of convictions, like some DUIs, are currently reviewed as more than just “minor infractions” but may end up impacting an individual’s ability to gain employment for years into the future. The same is true of small-time convictions for controlled substances, which continues to influence local, state and federal law. In many cases, those who visit a New Orleans car accident lawyer or criminal defense attorney in the local area can mitigate the effects of some of these charges before they become permanent black marks on a legal record, but often, existing convictions have lingering effects on access to employment and other long-term objectives.

Still Pending

Although insiders are saying the commission is likely to approve the above changes to New Orleans public hiring, the final response is still pending. In the meantime, there is a wider drive to support more access to employment for a greater number of local residents, which can mean changing hiring policies or practices, as well as creating more jobs and giving local populations better tools and training.

For those who have been severely limited in their job search by some type of past conviction, it’s clear that legal representation and advocacy is critically important for any case. Those who have convictions related to DUI/DWI or traffic offenses can talk to a New Orleans car accident lawyer at the Lavis Law firm about how to get past these kinds of black marks on a personal record.

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