The Common Council of Madison, Wisconsin passed a resolution that prohibits the city (i) from asking questions concerning an applicant’s criminal history on the city’s initial employment applications (i.e., “banning the box”), and (ii) from conducting a criminal background check before making a conditional offer of employment to the applicant. The resolution provides exceptions for the city’s police department and commissioned fire personnel.
While the resolution does not extend these prohibitions to city contractors and vendors at the present time, it does instruct the city to “introduce an ordinance [within the next six months] prohibiting City vendors and contractors from asking applicants about their arrest and conviction history until after a conditional offer of employment has been made.”
Given the national momentum behind the “ban the box” movement, Madison contractors and vendors should monitor the proposed ordinance as it makes its way through the Council. To date, about a dozen cities—including Compton (CA), Richmond (CA), Hartford (CT), New Haven (CT), Indianapolis (IN), Louisville (KY), Boston (MA), Cambridge (MA), Worcester, (MA), Detroit (MI), Atlantic City (NJ), New York City (NY), and Pittsburgh (PA)—have required vendors and contractors to ban the box on their employment applications. The State of Delaware has “encouraged” the same. Stay tuned to see if Madison is next.