I have to start off by saying – as a CEO this is a really bad bill. It not only puts the employer and employees in danger, it also does not allow employers to run their businesses effectively and essentially the government gets to tell them who to hire.If Florida Senators Jeff Clemens (D), Dwight Bullard (D) and Christopher L. Smith (D) had their way they would run all of the businesses in Florida. They are the sponsors and co-sponsors of SB 214. If passed it could make it illegal for businesses to run background checks on prospective employees in an effort to lower unemployment rates and get convicted murders, rapists, child molesters and gang members back to into the workforce.
The House’s identical version of the bill is HB 977 and is sponsored by Representative Bobby Powell.
SB 214 and HB 977 state:
760.105 Unlawful employment screening. – Unless otherwise required by law, an employer may not inquire into or consider an applicant’s criminal history on an initial employment application. An employer may inquire into or consider an applicant’s criminal history only after the applicant’s qualifications have been screened and the employer has determined that the applicant meets the minimum employment requirements specified for a given position.
Do not be fooled by the apparent loop hole that the “employer can inquire into or consider an applicant’s criminal history only after the applicant’s qualifications have been screened and the employer has determined the applicant meets the minimum employment requirements specified for a given position.” Whereas at face value it looks promising, all it is doing is opening up the possibility of the potential employee to sue the employer for discrimination if they decide not to hire them after they review their criminal history.It would be a sad day for Florida if this law is passed and it would definitely make the state less friendly for businesses.
Sen. Clemons has taken issue with this story, saying that his bill was misrepresented. Here is what he sent over to the Shark Tank via email:
As for the actual purpose of the bill, it is simple. If we want those convicted of non-violent felons to become functioning members of society and not return to a life of crime, we have to give them opportunities. Banning the check box on the original employment application simply gets them past the first step. At that point, the employers can run background checks, inquire about criminal history, and ask pretty much whatever they want. All the bill does is try to keep people from returning to a life of crime by giving them a shot to make their case. We should all want former felons to become productive, taxpaying members of society, instead of returning to crime.-Sen. Clemons