Target (NYSE: TGT) announced today, Oct. 30, that it will remove questions about criminal history from its job applications throughout the country. The change comes just months after Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed the "Ban the Box" legislation which will make it illegal for the state's employers to ask about a job applicant's criminal history until he or she has been selected for an interview. The new law goes into affect Jan. 1, 2014. The Minneapolis-based retailer still reserves the right to ask potential employees about their criminal pasts and run a background check after the applicant's first interview.
"Target is an industry leader in developing a nuanced criminal background check process that gives qualified applicants with a criminal history a second chance while maintaining the safety of our guests, team members and protecting our property," Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder wrote in an emailed statement, reports the Huffington Post.
The company is making the change to its application process as an effort to eliminate the opportunity for bias when hiring managers are determining who to interview. In addition to the application change, Target has agreed to give $100,000 to the Council on Crime and Justice, a Minneapolis social justice organization, to support ex-offender programs and employer engagement and education on the issue.
With $73 billion in annual revenue, Target has close to 1,800 stores and 362,000 employees nationwide. Target had faced growing pressure from TakeAction Minnesota, a grassroots organization that promotes racial and economic equity to blanket hiring exclusions. Over the past three years, the group led a vocal campaign against Target, which included demonstrations, the filing of ten civil rights complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and several meetings with Target leadership.
Studies show that up to 75 percent of people with a criminal past can't find a job for up to a year after they've been released. This may lead former inmates—of which there are currently 65 million of in the US—back to a life of crime in order to make a living.
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