Tampa City Council Moves Forward With Ban-the-Box Legislation for City Contractors

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Ban-the-Box - Tampa City

The Tampa City Council has taken another step toward introducing a new “ban-the-box” type of legislation for city contractors. This newly proposed ordinance would bar city contractors from making inquiries concerning a candidate’s criminal history until after a conditional offer of employment.

So far, 37 states and over 150 cities and counties across the country have adopted the “ban the box” legislation that bars criminal history inquiries until a later stage of the hiring process. These laws aim to ease re-entry for those with a criminal record by requiring employers to consider applicants’ qualifications for the position before their criminal history.

Its first reading passed through the city council unanimously for the Tampa ordinance, with the second reading scheduled for August 4th, 2022. The majority of council members expressed support for the legislation agreeing that those who have served their time deserve a second chance.

Under the city’s policy, contractors receive points when competing on city projects for voluntarily complying with the ban-the-box requirements. To comply with these requirements, contractors must:

  1. Omit inquiries in any form on their job applications that regard an applicant’s criminal history; and
  2. Omit statements implying that a person with a criminal history may or should not apply; and
  3. Refrain from conducting an informal or formal background check on an applicant or making any other inquiry using any privately or publicly available means of obtaining the criminal history of an applicant until after a conditional offer of employment is extended to the applicant; and
  4. Refrain from asking about the applicant’s criminal history until a conditional offer of employment has been extended. The employer may rescind the conditional offer of employment for any reason no later than the 10th day after the day the employer communicated the proposal to the applicant.

Additionally, to receive points, contractors must show that they have attempted to comply with this program. Compliance includes employing ex-offenders, employing ex-offenders in the past, explaining how they tried hiring ex-offenders in the past, and plans for hiring these workers in the future.

This ordinance will bring city contractors into line with existing requirements for city positions. The city has had a ban-the-box policy since 2013, requiring the issuance of a conditional offer before checking an applicant’s background. Extending this policy to contractors is a revisited legislation since being passed in 2013. In 2015, the city rejected a previous proposal that would have done so.

Councilman Luis Viera proposed this ordinance in April of this year. If this legislation comes into effect, it will apply to all contractors who submit a bid, response, or proposal to the City of Tampa.

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