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Austin adopts Fair Chance Hiring Ordinance

Friday, March 25, 2016 by Eva Ruth Moravec

Austin businesses that employ 15 or more workers will be prohibited from asking job applicants about their criminal background until they are ready to make a conditional job offer under the Fair Chance Hiring Ordinance that City Council adopted Thursday night. The ordinance passed on an 8-2 vote with Council members Ellen Troxclair and Don Zimmerman opposed and Sheri Gallo absent. The vote came after Council heard from a number of people who had been convicted of felonies and had difficulties finding jobs. It also heard from several members of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce and temporary staffing agencies, which opposed the measure. Excluded from the new regulation are tax-exempt membership clubs and federal or state agencies. Temporary staffing agencies will be allowed to ask applicants about their criminal history before offers are made, so that they may be added to the agency’s applicant pool. In the new law’s first year, violators will face only a warning. First-time violators in the second year will also face only a warning, but after a first citation, they will be fined up to $500.

Supporters of Austin's new fair chance hiring ordinance gathered for a photo after City Council passed the measure Thursday night.

Supporters of Austin’s new Fair Chance Hiring Ordinance gathered for a photo after City Council passed the measure Thursday night.

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