Mayor Gillum, City Move To “Ban” Criminal Background Question From Job Application

Mayor Gillum, City Move To “Ban” Criminal Background Question From Job Application

A discussion initiated by Mayor Gillum on December 15, 2014 about eliminating criminal background questions from government employment applications may be headed to the full City Commission in January.

On December 16, 2014,  local TV station WTXL reported that “Mayor Andrew Gillum met with local leaders …about ways to improve the application process for government positions. Mayor Gillum suggested those who are interested not be asked about their criminal history when they first apply.”

Tallahassee Reports has learned that the issue, referred to as “Ban the Box”, is listed as an agenda item for the January 14, 2015 City Commission meeting.

According to, “the campaign started in 2004 after a series of Peace and Justice Community Summits identified job and housing discrimination as huge barriers to our successfully returning to our communities after jail or prison. The campaign challenges the stereotypes of people with conviction histories by asking employers to choose their best candidates based on job skills and qualifications, not past convictions.”

The website also reports that over 45 cities and counties, including New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Seattle, and San Francisco have removed the question regarding conviction history from their employment applications.  Some cities and counties and the state of Massachusetts have also required their vendors and private employers to adopt these fair hiring policies.

Critics of  “Ban the Box” include the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).  “It’s a kind of one-size-fits-all, heavy-handed mandate that presupposes politicians and lawyers know better how to assess job applicants than the people who are doing the hiring,” said Jack Mozloom, a spokesman for the NFIB, told NBC News.  “Small business owners have much to lose here. They have their own customers to protect, their own financial information to protect, their own products and liability.”

Tallahassee Reports has also learned that Mayor Andrew Gillum’s employer, People for the Amercian Way, is a supporter of the “Ban the Box” movement through their leadership program called Young Elected Officials Network (YEO Network).

Mayor Gillum is listed as the Executive Director of the YEO.

The YEO lists “Ban the Box” as a target issue for local governments and gives as an example the ordinance adopted by the Council of the District of Columbia. Text here.

The District of Columbia ordinance, adopted in 2012, is not limited to government employment. One section reads:

“In connection with the employment of any person, it shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for a private employer to… Make any inquiry about a person regarding any criminal conviction prior to making a conditional offer of employment..”

In addition,  the ordinance supported by YEO states that “following the extension of a conditional offer of employment, an employer may only withdraw the conditional offer for a legitimate business reason.”

The City of Tallahassee employment application currently includes a questionnaire that addresses, US citizenship, veterans preference, criminal background, registration for selective service, and contact with current employer.

When asked by TR if the City’s initiative would include private companies that do work for the City, Ellen Blair, the Human Resources Director with the City of Tallahassee,  said ” that has not been decided yet…We are still working on the agenda item.”

When asked if Mayor Gillum initiatied this issue, Ms. Blair said ” I get my direction from the City Manager.”


9 Responses to "Mayor Gillum, City Move To “Ban” Criminal Background Question From Job Application"

  1. Mayor I now live in the city of Albany Georgia and even though I fear the corruption of this city will destroy young men from striving on forward it is a difficult one sided judicial net. How ever for the sakes of my nephews and nieces in the city of Tallahassee I sincerely thank and most of all sir my family supports you and your staff to the fullest and we will continue to do so because of you business is growing, because of you business are beginning to flourish due to your up close and hands on approach an act of care and equality sincerely appreciated sir thank you personally for showing the youth care, you have inspired me to continue my education iam a second year Law student paralegal thank you well.John

  2. Absurd and terrifying! Ban the box is total BS. We have trouble of the criminal kind in several city and county agencies that go uninvestigated. A prominent private investigator who asked me not to use their name found fraud at the Tallahassee Housing Authority 2 years ago. Not doing background checks on people in a position of trust is ridiculous and may subject the public to criminals wearing city uniforms. Think of the access these employees will have to come on your property, access private information and so forth. Ban the box, no ban the idiots who support this.

  3. Just wait until Tallahassee hires its first convicted cocaine dealer, pedophile, rapist, or armed robber. The city will then be liable and these people will be called into question.
    My understanding is that Commissioner Ziffer is not going to support this.

    What bothers me is that checking the box doesn’t exclude you from employment. It forces you to explain what the criminal offense was. Maybe it is something that is acceptable, maybe not. The Commission is making a terrible error in judgment.

  4. Just what Tallahassee needs, a pedophile working for Parks and Rec, a crooked accountant in finance and a thief in procurement.
    On current applications, if you don’t indicate a criminal conviction and it is discovered during a background check, isn’t that lying on the application and grounds NOT to be hired?
    Would the criminal background check still be performed even if the question is not on the application??? What convictions will be “overlooked” and deemed acceptable for this person to be hired?
    Isn’t this an important question for an potential new hire for TPD???

  5. I hope this ban is passed. It will give new life to many who are qualified to have a career and not just “a job” because of a past mistake. So many are suffering “Social Death” due to their inability to make a living wage because of a record that is years or even decades old.

  6. This is bad! If you want criminals to get jobs, make sure they don’t commit crimes in the first place. Ok, that won’t work of course, but there we go again with Government getting involved where they should not be. I do not want to be told what questions I can ask when I interview someone for a job working for ME! What is it about its none of your business you don’t understand.

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