- 'Ban the Box' is a quickly growing trend (and in many places, the law) in which employers no longer ask job seekers about their criminal records on job applications. Now, new academic research found while banning the box may indeed cut unemployment among those with criminal records, it also increases racial discrimination, according to the Baltimore Sun
- Researchers sent each employer two applications, identical except one was supposedly from a white man and the other was supposedly from a black man. The good news was Ban the Box laws increased the odds of applicants with criminal records to get hired. Before the laws passed, white applicants were 7% more likely to receive a callback than black applicants. But in the post-law landscape, that race-based gap rose to a 45% advantage for white applicants.
- The idea behind Ban the Box is to give those with criminal records a chance to land a job before they are instantly eliminated via the job app.
Simply, researchers Amanda Agan (Princeton University) and Sonja Starr of the (University of Michigan) shipped 15,000 faux online job applications to employers in New Jersey and New York City, and they did it both before and after those laws took effect.
"Black men without criminal records are going to have a harder time getting their foot in the door," Agan said. She said employers might discriminate against candidates using "race-based assumptions" about criminality.
Despite the research, two organizations who support Ban the Box laws, All of Us or None and the National Employment Law Project, an advocacy group, are not convinced, with both saying it is too early to blame the new laws for this outcome. NELP told the Sun that employers have yet to respond with new hiring practices, adding that "underlying bias" was the culprit, not the Ban the Box laws.