Ban-the-Box Considered in Oklahoma Could Help Many Residents

November 14, 2023

Oklahoma legislators may attempt to pass legislation that helps those with past felonies in the next session. This attempt would improve job opportunities for individuals who have served their time. The Bill under consideration is Senate Bill 1077, also known as Ban-the-Box legislation.

What is Ban-the-Box 

Passing the Ban-the-Box legislation could prove beneficial if you have a felony on your record. For example, it would help address the challenges of getting a job or housing. Ban-the-Box prohibits employers from asking if you have a felony on an application. It also prevents them from asking during the hiring process. 

However, a prospective employer can still request permission to conduct a background screening. According to the Ban-the-Box legislation, employers may request a check after offering a conditional employment offer. It would also require employers with a policy of refusing to hire ex-felons to disclose this information on their job applications.

The Senate Business and Commerce Committee had passed a Ban-the-Box legislation previously. Unfortunately, it never received a hearing on the Senate floor. As such, Sen. Jack Stewart stated that he would push the legislation again during this session. However, he suspects the legislation will receive amendments.

How It Helps

Ban-the-Box laws can help many people, as an estimated 70 million U.S. residents have a conviction or arrest on their records. These criminal records have prevented many from acquiring employment or housing. As such, many states and counties have worked to ease these burdens through Ban-the-Box legislation. They hope to support the efforts of affected individuals to reintegrate into society.

Approximately 35 states and 150 cities and counties have Ban-the-Box laws. However, some participants enacted the legislation through executive orders. For example, a former Oklahoma governor signed one such executive order in 2016. This order required state agencies to remove any questions concerning criminal histories or convictions from their job applications. 

Many Ban-the-Box laws include exceptions for specific situations. For example, employers may inquire about criminal history during interviews. They can also conduct background checks after making a conditional job offer. Regardless, these laws can significantly improve your chances of pursuing job opportunities in state agencies. This improvement may soon apply to the private sector as well.

Passing the Ban-the-Box legislation could help many people in Oklahoma. However, employers can still perform background checks. As such, running a self-background check could prepare you for questions in the interview process or later. A self-check also allows you to correct your records before employers get the wrong information.

Try running a self background check today and give yourself a head start on your next job opportunity.