Last week, the Michigan Chamber appeared before the House Commerce Committee to express its strong opposition to legislation to prohibit employers from asking job applicants about their criminal history.
The Michigan Chamber opposes “Ban the Box” legislation because employers have the right and responsibility to know who they are hiring to represent their company. House Bill 4366, introduced by Fred Durhal (D-Detroit), is directly at odds with the legal doctrine of negligent hiring, which specifies that an employer may be held liable for the unlawful acts of an employee if the employer breaches its duty to use reasonable care in selecting and retaining only competent and fit employees, including investigating the background of prospective employees.
In our testimony, we explained that removing a tiny little box on an employment application may not seem like a big deal to lawmakers, but it is removing the first line of defense for employers who have a legal obligation to know whether an applicant poses an unacceptable level of risk to their business.
Rather than imposing a blanket ban and interfering with core workplace policies and decisions, we believe the Legislature should consider incentivizing the hiring of individuals with criminal records. For example, some states, including Texas and Ohio, have eliminated liability to employers hiring individuals with criminal records. We will be pursuing this alternative approach in Michigan in the coming months.
While it appears the bill is stalled for the time being, we will be carefully monitoring this legislation moving forward.
Please contact Wendy Block with any questions or comments at (517)371-7678 or firstname.lastname@example.org.