Metro Council passes 'Ban the Box' ordinance


by Chelsea Rabideau

Posted on March 13, 2014 at 11:58 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 14 at 12:06 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – It was a heated debate at Metro Hall Thursday night over an ordinance called “Ban the Box.”

Just before 10 o’clock, council members passed the measure to ban questions about criminal history from city job applications by a unanimous vote.

For awhile, it looked like the ordinance might not even make it to a vote during the meeting. Council members tussled over many small details.

Discussion went on for hours, with supporters of the bill in the audience holding up signs the entire time. When talks got heated, they stood up in support.

The main point of contention came down to this: The way the ordinance was written, vendors with the city would have to file paperwork saying they’d removed the question about criminal history from their applications. That was eventually amended during the meeting to make the ordinance complaint driven. Meaning, vendors would have to remove the question from applications but they don’t have to file the paperwork. If an applicant sees the question on an application, they can file a complaint with the human resource commission.

Bonifacio Aleman with Kentucky Jobs for Justice said it was mostly game playing.

“We were confident from the outset that we went into this hearing with the votes we needed to get it passed out. We saw a lot of circus tricks happen tonight, but we were confident that the vote was going to happen tonight,” he said.

The ordinance only applies to the city of Louisville and vendors who work with the city. It only takes the question off application forms.

Employers can still ask about criminal history during the interview process.

The purpose is really just to allow potential employees a chance to be considered before they’re excluded because of past crimes.