Join 3,496 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Ban the Box, the Private Edition
October 29, 2013 4:37 PM   Subscribe

Target Bans the Box. Target Corp., one of the nation's largest employers, joins the growing number of cities and states to Ban the Box. Most Ban the Box legislation has been targeted towards public employers and contractors, but there has been a growing trend to enact legislation applicable to private employers, including in Target's home-state Minnesota. Target is one of the few private employers to take the step, and as far as I can tell, the largest yet.

Here's a bonus Resource Guide that compiles a ton of resources about the 10 states and over 50 cities that have so far taken the step.
posted by likeatoaster (73 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
Earlier this year, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed a law expanding the state’s ban-the-box policy to cover private employers. Starting January 1, 2014, all employers in Minnesota will be required to wait until a job applicant has been selected for an interview or a given a conditional offer of employment before asking the applicant about her criminal history or conducting a criminal background check.

Dang! Fucking baller move, Mark Dayton (and Minnesota state congress)!
posted by Greg Nog at 4:41 PM on October 29, 2013 [12 favorites]


A person I know who studied this for a large corporation told me that it's simply getting too difficult to hire people in some states, for some jobs, if you look at criminal records because so many people have them.

He also told me that drug testing people on the late shifts in one part of the warehouse operations at the same company had to be suspended because if they went by the company bylaws, they would've had to fire a large percentage of the staff.
posted by cell divide at 4:46 PM on October 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is a really positive thing. People's attitudes toward the criminal justice system have just gotten really poisonous. The idea that someone can pay their debt to society and then start again used to be standard. Now, people go out of their way to make that impossible.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 4:51 PM on October 29, 2013 [75 favorites]


I can see the drug testing thing; I work on industrial projects where passing a drug test is required to gain site access and that bar is something a lot of people can't get over.
posted by Mitheral at 4:54 PM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well gosh, who would have ever have guessed that creating a permanent criminal underclass might have consequences down the line???
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 4:56 PM on October 29, 2013 [90 favorites]


Not an FPP about reducing packaging then. Am somewhat disappointed.
posted by biffa at 5:08 PM on October 29, 2013 [35 favorites]


Four instances of the phrase 'Ban the Box' in the post text and title, but it remains ambiguous as to what the post is actually about. Target has changed its policy (early) to remove inquiries about job applicants' arrest and conviction records from the applications. They'll ask about them only after asking for an interview or extending a conditional offer of employment.

Good for them. Are they on board with GLBTQ rights yet?
posted by carsonb at 5:16 PM on October 29, 2013 [11 favorites]


People's attitudes toward the criminal justice system have just gotten really poisonous. The idea that someone can pay their debt to society and then start again used to be standard. Now, people go out of their way to make that impossible.

This. It is unfuckingbelievable to me that, for example, convicted felons are denied the right to vote in some states.
posted by lalex at 5:18 PM on October 29, 2013 [12 favorites]


I thought it was going to be about banning big box stores and I was really confused why Target would be in favor.
posted by desjardins at 5:18 PM on October 29, 2013 [27 favorites]


Based on the phrasing of the FPP, I was worried that some private employers had started using Gom Jabbar testing in the hiring process.
posted by figurant at 5:20 PM on October 29, 2013 [49 favorites]


The WSJ link is behind a pay-wall as far as I can tell.

This does very little. Those with criminal records will simply be discriminated against at a later part of the process.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:21 PM on October 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'd like to suggest that folks read the links provided in the post before articulating their random musings about what "Ban the Box" might refer to. It's pretty clearly explained in the links.
posted by lalex at 5:22 PM on October 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


This does very little. Those with criminal records will simply be discriminated against at a later part of the process.

I agree, but the fact that TakeAction Minnesota was fighting for this does make me believe it's a good thing, even if it is just a start in the right direction.
posted by orme at 5:30 PM on October 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


[Folks, maybe let's not go full chucklehead in here and also keep the metacommentary to Metatalk if it needs to be a discussion about post construction.]
posted by cortex at 5:32 PM on October 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Roscoe Lee Browne, as "Box".
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:32 PM on October 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


A person I know who studied this for a large corporation told me that it's simply getting too difficult to hire people in some states, for some jobs, if you look at criminal records because so many people have them.

This certainly seems like more of a testament to America's sprawling prison colossus than anything worth fist-pumping over. Low wage jobs recruit from the reserve army of labor, an army increasingly incarcerated.
posted by gorbweaver at 5:37 PM on October 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


Great. So the rest of us have to shop in fear?!
posted by Flashman at 5:41 PM on October 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


This does very little. Those with criminal records will simply be discriminated against at a later part of the process.

I think you're underestimating two factors here:

1) At a lot of companies, HR asks an initial filter, and it's often a fairly dumb filter (a lot of people who post here are in tech, and I bet a lot of you have horror stories about requirements that bear almost no resemblance to the skills that would help someone succeed in the job). Just getting an applicant in front of the person they are going to be working for, who likely does not give a shit about the person's five-year-old DUI, matters.

2) There's a stronger impact to a government signal of 'don't do this' than I think a lot of market-oriented people (among whom I count myself, usually) like to believe. Think about gender and race discrimination, which while certainly still extant, aren't what they were in say in the 1960s. This is partly because of enforcement, but really only partly--frankly, a company could get away with a fair bit. Also important is that overt discrimination is something that decent people just don't do anymore (again I stress that I am not saying discrimination of this sort is a thing of the past, just that it has meaningfully declined). Norms matter, and whether we like it or not--and I'm often ambivalent about it myself--the government in effect saying 'hey, you know, you really shouldn't be refusing to interview someone with a criminal record' will in all likelihood have an impact.
posted by dsfan at 5:43 PM on October 29, 2013 [23 favorites]


The ambiguity of "Ban-the-Box" motivated me to click the link and learn more, but the OP should know that I resented it the whole way.

Otherwise, I think we're seeing a bit less tough-on-crimism across the board, perhaps as a result of declining rates of crime, but perhaps more likely a result of declining state budgets. We can't afford all that pricey incarceration anymore*.


---------------------
* I just read that the USS Zumwalt, the Navy's latest and greatest, has slipped into the water, after nearly doubling its projected $3.8B estimated cost, which means the Navy can only afford to buy three more. Previously I read that production of the military's latest and greatest jet fighter was also cut after the plane failed to live up to performance expectations while exceeding cost estimates. Taken together I think we're seeing some of the upside of the end of empire.
posted by notyou at 5:44 PM on October 29, 2013


I do a lot of pro bono work in the area of criminal expungement. The concept for those unfamiliar is that certain records should automatically be expunged because the person either was never charged or the disposition of the case was in their favor (not guilty, for example) or if guilty the public interest in knowing of the conviction is less than the harm it is doing to the individual. Under that second scenario, generally the offense is relatively small, usually non-violent, and occurred well in the past with the person how having changed their life and being held back by the conviction.

Courts have been refreshingly fair in Minnesota, especially in the Twin Cities area, when it comes to expungement. Drugs, alcohol, petty theft, and lots of crimes related to being homeless or mentally ill regularly are expunged.

There is a catch -

Due to appellate and state supreme court rulings, the courts have no authority to order the executive branch to expunge their records. The executive branch, through the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension mostly, post publicly on the web material that the judicial branch itself says should be expunged. Landlords, employers, and screening agencies can therefore search and find records that a court has expunged from the court records for good cause because of these court rulings. Moreover, private entities such as background check companies can keep whatever they want in their files, never cleaning them up to reflect an expungement. On top of that the FBI, who feeds records into federally funded agencies like HUD and subsidized housing, are outside the state's authority to require expungement.

To make matters worse, even if you have all of your records expunged, both court and executive branch, if an application says "have you ever been arrested" or "have you ever been convicted" you have to say yes, because you have - then you have to explain you had it expunged. The explanation sometimes works, but if you say no and records come back saying a "no" answer is a lie, you're just done in the application process.

What is needed is a broad-based state and federal reform regarding expungements with real teeth in the requirements to wipe the slate clean, both privately and publicly. That is not going to be easy to pass. Couple all of this with the reality that most people are never informed of the ramifications of a guilty plea, and lots of people take the guilty plea route to avoid stress, embarrassment and risk not knowing the record may haunt them forever. Don't even get me started on the DHS and what these non-convictions could mean to keeping your kids or getting a job (the DHS operates on a much lower standard than high criminal conviction burdens).

We have created a legal system that never forgets, employers who are paranoid, and an Internet that allows nobody to hide. No wonder people just give up.
posted by Muddler at 5:45 PM on October 29, 2013 [45 favorites]


Shouldn't we hold off on the second chances until all the folks who deserve a first chance get one?
posted by Renoroc at 5:46 PM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nope. Because that's dumb and counter productive. See: Current policy not working.
posted by klangklangston at 5:47 PM on October 29, 2013 [26 favorites]


I also can't get to the WSJ article, but here is a piece from the Shriver Center last week about Illinois' Governor Quinn signing a "ban the box" administrative order for agency hiring in Illinois.
posted by crush-onastick at 5:48 PM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Shouldn't we hold off on the second chances until all the folks who deserve a first chance get one?

No. Providing people who have been incarcerated with a chance to rejoin society in a productive manner is good for all of us.
posted by lalex at 5:49 PM on October 29, 2013 [28 favorites]


Shouldn't we hold off on the second chances until all the folks who deserve a first chance get one?

Nobody's preventing them from applying for the jobs.
posted by ook at 5:53 PM on October 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


Here is the WSJ article without the paywall.

(As far as I can tell, it's similar to the NYT in that there is a limit to how many WSJ articles you can read, since it is not automatically behind the paywall, or at least wasn't for me).
posted by likeatoaster at 5:53 PM on October 29, 2013


I want to stress that this isn't just about those that have served time. Individuals who have never spent any time in jail as punishment are hit hard by even minor convictions. For example, all those drug, alcohol, silly kid pranks, and momentary lapses in judgment that you've all done that break the law - well, some unlucky people get arrested and convicted. If we didn't cast stones in glass houses, these laws wouldn't much matter.

If you've never broken a law you're probably lying to yourself or really, really boring. Or a fetus. Most fetuses break very few laws, but also most cannot type or read, so I'm guessing you're not a fetus.
posted by Muddler at 5:55 PM on October 29, 2013 [14 favorites]


This is meaningless, as long as employers are allowed to check an applicant's credit report.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:04 PM on October 29, 2013 [11 favorites]


This is a really positive thing. People's attitudes toward the criminal justice system have just gotten really poisonous. The idea that someone can pay their debt to society and then start again used to be standard. Now, people go out of their way to make that impossible.

Every time I think about the myriad factors poisoning peoples' attitudes towards justice and fairness I have to just give up in frustration because there are so many things. Views on justice and fairness and empathy cut right to the bone of society, they're a significant portion of the damn foundation and they're fucked, and it really hurts to think about. I mean I typed up this whole list of examples and deleted it just now because it was both an obnoxious giant text dump and woefully inadequate to really express the magnitude of the problem.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:07 PM on October 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


He also told me that drug testing people on the late shifts in one part of the warehouse operations at the same company had to be suspended because if they went by the company bylaws, they would've had to fire a large percentage of the staff.

Related question: Does Target still do pre-employment drug screening? They did for corporate office positions, not that long ago.
posted by gimonca at 6:07 PM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've always found it more than a little funny that every job application I've ever filled out asks if I've ever been convicted of a felony.

There's no such thing as a felony here in Canada.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:10 PM on October 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


So, technically you're not lying eh Sys Rq? *murderer hi5*
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:33 PM on October 29, 2013 [8 favorites]


Just did got my criminal background check today for a new job, but that was after being hired (in Canada). Welcome to the future Target!
posted by blue_beetle at 6:42 PM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Shouldn't we hold off on the second chances until all the folks who deserve a first chance get one?

i am so incredibly curious as to what you intended this to mean
posted by a birds at 6:49 PM on October 29, 2013 [8 favorites]


This is meaningless, as long as employers are allowed to check an applicant's credit report.

i have been denied several jobs due to my credit rating--a rating that was savaged by a messy divorce and custody battle. it has pretty much rendered me unemployable for that past 15 years.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 6:49 PM on October 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


This. It is unfuckingbelievable to me that, for example, convicted felons are denied the right to vote in some states.

I find the practical matter of denying the vote to a convicted felon currently being incarcerated very reasonable. I cannot for the life of me understand why it was ever something that seemed like a good idea to anyone not to return that right once released from prison. See earlier comments about permanent criminal underclass. Why would you want to do anything that makes someone who has already offended feel less connected to society? What practical purpose does it serve?
posted by phearlez at 6:54 PM on October 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Given that 65 million Americans now have criminal records, that reminder is crucial.

20%. Really?
posted by crossoverman at 6:59 PM on October 29, 2013


i have been denied several jobs due to my credit rating--a rating that was savaged by a messy divorce and custody battle.

That's fucked... I hope there's a ring of hell set aside for HR managers that dig into people's credit ratings, unless they're trying to get them a security clearance or something. Divorced spouses trying to meet child support obligations are in an especially bad corner and it's barbaric to kick them to the curb. Unless they've got addiction problems going on I'd hire them preferentially the same way I'd hire a veteran.
posted by crapmatic at 7:00 PM on October 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yes. credit checks for job (and credit scores in general) are a huge problem that I never really hear anything about and I really hope that this draws attention to it.

The Long Shadow of Bad Credit in a Job Search


“Someone loses their job,” Ms. Wu said, “so they can’t pay their bills — and now they can’t get a job because they couldn’t pay their bills because they lost a job? It’s this Catch-22 that makes no sense.” It can also be a kind of backdoor job discrimination, Ms. Wu contends, given the numerous studies that demonstrate that those black, Latino or simply poor are more likely to have lower credit scores than those who are white and have means.

That said, Ban The Box is a big step in the right direction and actually a pleasant surprise to me as I hadn't heard anything about it.
posted by triggerfinger at 7:03 PM on October 29, 2013 [14 favorites]


We ended up managing to create an even more stringent class structure than we claimed we wanted to be free of when we fought the revolutionary war, didn't we?
posted by maxwelton at 7:04 PM on October 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


We really ought to have people getting homeowner's and car insurance through their jobs, too, so that they can also lose those when they are laid off.
posted by thelonius at 7:08 PM on October 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


Shouldn't we hold off on the second chances until all the folks who deserve a first chance get one?

As a person with a misdemeanor for a drug offense ( weed ) I guess that's cool. But if you're going to hire a really crappy programmer instead of me because he or she never smoked weed and got caught, then I guess I'll let the market figure that out.
posted by localhuman at 7:12 PM on October 29, 2013 [11 favorites]


We ended up managing to create an even more stringent class structure than we claimed we wanted to be free of when we fought the revolutionary war, didn't we?

Ours is actually even better because we're so blinded by our own bootstraps we refuse to admit it exists.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:21 PM on October 29, 2013


crossoverman: "20%. Really?"

Yep. Heck .7% of Americans are currently in jail/prison; 2.9% are under some sort of correctional supervision (probation, parole, jail, or prison). Something like a third of Americans are arrested by age 23. The US far and away leads in incarceration rates amongst countries; only Saint Kitts and Nevis; and Seychelles; are in the same league.
In Washington D.C., three out of every four young black men are expected to serve some time in prison. In major cities across the country, 80% of young African Americans now have criminal records.

posted by Mitheral at 7:27 PM on October 29, 2013 [11 favorites]


Dang! Fucking baller move, Mark Dayton (and Minnesota state congress)!

Important to note that Governor Mark Dayton is the great-grandson of George Dayton, who in 1902 founded Dayton Dry Goods Company – which grew into Target Corporation.
posted by Sfving at 7:34 PM on October 29, 2013 [8 favorites]


And I think that the major donation by TGT's current CEO to Dayton's tea bagger opponent during the gubernatorial election was intended as a "fuck you" to him.

This issue has come up at TGT shareholder meetings during the past few years. Given what I've observed, the change is more to Dayton's credit than TGT corporate's
posted by brujita at 7:44 PM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


He also told me that drug testing people on the late shifts in one part of the warehouse operations at the same company had to be suspended because if they went by the company bylaws, they would've had to fire a large percentage of the staff.

In every IT company I've worked for, that's also true. In most cases, the only rule is 'don't get high at work'.
posted by empath at 7:57 PM on October 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've got nothing of consequence to add, but I am SO HAPPY to see these sorts of laws coming into place! For all the talk of "paying your debt to society" that hard-liners say when talking about prisons, it's been amazing what bullshit that's been. This is a good good change, and I'm surprised it's even happening -- but glad, and happy for all the people that may have a better chance at gainful work because of it.

Now, let's also get onto eliminating background credit checks ...
posted by barnacles at 8:35 PM on October 29, 2013


That's fucked... I hope there's a ring of hell set aside for HR managers that dig into people's credit ratings, unless they're trying to get them a security clearance or something. Divorced spouses trying to meet child support obligations are in an especially bad corner and it's barbaric to kick them to the curb. Unless they've got addiction problems going on I'd hire them preferentially the same way I'd hire a veteran.

And it doesn't even make sense. How does credit rating have anything to do with employment? At least one could arguably stretch criminal history to be relevant to trustworthiness, but credit score?
posted by kafziel at 8:51 PM on October 29, 2013 [8 favorites]


It can also be a kind of backdoor job discrimination, Ms. Wu contends, given the numerous studies that demonstrate that those black, Latino or simply poor are more likely to have lower credit scores than those who are white and have means.

I think this is the driving factor behind credit checks, drug screens, and questions about criminal background. There are arguments for each one of them, but they're generally pretty weak; if you talk to the people responsible for them in a candid moment, the real motivation is to keep the "wrong sort" of people out.

Drug tests are particularly awesome. I've been flat-out told on multiple occasions: "it's not about whether you do drugs or not, it's about whether you're too stupid to pass a drug test." I.e. if you understand the mechanics of the drug test, what they're testing for, and what it takes to pass, you're fine. If you don't, well, sucks for you. They might as well just quiz you on the half-life of various drug metabolites; it would be cheaper and the end result would be about the same.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:54 PM on October 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


i have been denied several jobs due to my credit rating--a rating that was savaged by a messy divorce and custody battle. it has pretty much rendered me unemployable for that past 15 years.
posted by lester's sock puppet


This seems fucking insane to me, as an employer, I'd far prefer a new hire to want to build something better for them self by coming to work reliably. Some financial desperation can make for a better employee, as cold and shitty as that sounds. Someone with bills comes to work on time and when they are scheduled, far better than the alternative.

Jesus the world is incomprehensible sometimes.
posted by Keith Talent at 9:43 PM on October 29, 2013 [9 favorites]


Shouldn't we hold off on the second chances until all the folks who deserve a first chance get one?

The brutal truth about equal opportunity is that, ideally, it's EQUAL.

Suck it up and compete.
posted by trackofalljades at 10:17 PM on October 29, 2013


Except that equal opportunity is not, in practice, EQUAL. I may have opined earlier in a comment about how I have a misdemeanor with weed and still with my abilities I'm able to get employment, and I may have been making a little joke about it.

But I'd like for anyone who reads this thread to know that when a person applies for a job and they are declined for credit reasons or past offenses that it is just not a really good thing for society as a whole.

I've gotten passes here and there because I'm white and because I'm male that have given me the opportunity to let my abilities shine and so forth, but I damn well know that if I didn't happen to be born of the parents I was of the color they happened to be or if I was instead perhaps of a different gender.. I probably would not have gotten those jobs I've gotten, given the offenses to society I've committed. All in all though, I've always been a very profitable employee to all of my employers. Suck it up and compete indeed.
posted by localhuman at 11:06 PM on October 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


This should make sex offenders happy.
posted by Ardiril at 11:17 PM on October 29, 2013


In Washington D.C., three out of every four young black men are expected to serve some time in prison. In major cities across the country, 80% of young African Americans now have criminal records.

Meanwhile the DEA
Teamed up with the CCA
They tryna lock n***** up
They tryna make new slaves
See that's that privately owned prison
Get your piece today
They prolly all in the Hamptons
Bragging 'bout what they made

posted by drjimmy11 at 11:19 PM on October 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


How does credit rating have anything to do with employment?

Someone finds out that the government does credit checks for security clearances, but doesn't know why they do it?
posted by empath at 12:29 AM on October 30, 2013


How does credit rating have anything to do with employment?

Honestly, my guess was that credit scores would track certain kinds of performance. The only study I can find right now is http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/apl/97/2/469 which appears to be the source for a lot of articles about credit scores and work performance.

The important part from the abstract is "we found conscientiousness to be positively related and agreeableness to be negatively related to credit scores. Results also indicate significant relationships between credit scores and task performance and organizational citizenship behaviors. Credit scores did not, however, predict workplace deviance."

Anyone have access to the full article? I'm curious why a number of articles that quote the study claim that it didn't find a link between credit scores and performance - this one for example.


They might as well just quiz you on the half-life of various drug metabolites; it would be cheaper and the end result would be about the same.

The HR guy I knew said the drug test was more about seeing whether someone had the self-control to stop smoking pot until they got hired, and afterwards he didn't care. I think pre-employment drug testing can also help with insurance rates, if I'm remembering right.
posted by dragoon at 1:22 AM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


To me it only makes sense if you're operating heavy equipment or something else that could potentially kill someone if you're high. Something that is probably not the case for your average target employee.
posted by empath at 2:11 AM on October 30, 2013


The HR guy I knew said the drug test was more about seeing whether someone had the self-control to stop smoking pot until they got hired, and afterwards he didn't care.

This. If an applicant can't lay off for a month or two whilst looking for work, knowing that a drug test will be a necessary hoop, it says something about the candidate.
posted by three blind mice at 2:18 AM on October 30, 2013


I know that when my friends send emails out mulitple times asking how to beat drug tests for job interviews, it makes me think they're fucking morons.
posted by empath at 2:19 AM on October 30, 2013


Why would you want to do anything that makes someone who has already offended feel less connected to society? What practical purpose does it serve?

That's easy! Keeping republicans in office!
posted by spitbull at 3:02 AM on October 30, 2013


We ended up managing to create an even more stringent class structure than we claimed we wanted to be free of when we fought the revolutionary war, didn't we?

Was that a widely made claim at the time of the war?
posted by atrazine at 3:29 AM on October 30, 2013


Is this Target being progressive or Target realizing that the employment pool of desperate people willing to be abused and paid beans in a harshly anti-labor environment has shrunk to the point where those with a random run-in with the police shouldn't be immediately discounted?
posted by Slackermagee at 5:22 AM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


>How does credit rating have anything to do with employment?

Someone finds out that the government does credit checks for security clearances, but doesn't know why they do it?


Probably, but I think it's meant to be an indicator of likelihood to defraud the company (on the grounds that people with poor credit scores are more likely to have a need for money).
posted by hoyland at 5:31 AM on October 30, 2013


Yep. Heck .7% of Americans are currently in jail/prison; 2.9% are under some sort of correctional supervision (probation, parole, jail, or prison). Something like a third of Americans are arrested by age 23. The US far and away leads in incarceration rates amongst countries; only Saint Kitts and Nevis; and Seychelles; are in the same league.

That's fucking insane.

From the link: "Perhaps most important, effectively making more than one quarter of the American workforce unemployable may be an unsustainable policy for the economy as whole." That's the core problem, right there. Who would have thought that Reagan's War on Drugs would fuck over the economy so badly down the road.
posted by qi at 5:43 AM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Banning the box is a good thing. People have paid their debt to society and should be allowed to compete on a level playing field. The credit check requirement for employment thing just boggles me. If you can turn up on time, perform well and earn your paycheck, so the hell cares if you're credit history is poor?

Congrats on the new job, blue_beetle!
posted by arcticseal at 6:08 AM on October 30, 2013


Whoa, Target, good on ya.

I never really thought much about this when I was younger, but you spend a loooooot of years as an adult and these things don't have an expiration date. Boyfriend, also a teacher, was convicted of selling a very small amount of weed when he was barely 18 and issued a disorderly conduct ticket a few months later for walking in the bike lane on a low-traffic suburban street.

This means he will never be eligible to work in some school districts and he needs to write a kind of embarrassing essay explaining away the offenses every time he applies for a job. It sucks going into an interview knowing that the interviewer will be holding in their hands a narrative of a stupid non-event more than a decade in the past. It really multiplies the stress he feels about the process. I'm sure a lot of people don't bother to read it and just toss his application. There are plenty of teachers who don't have to check yes, why bother?
I'm sure there are plenty of people applying to Target, too. It's not as though it's a strong labor market out there.

We recently spent $1000+ and two days back in his home state trying to get those horrible crimes expunged. Both applications were rejected. One of them was rejected because of the application to expunge the other. The other was rejected because someone with the same name committed a different crime 3 years ago (while BF was working minimum wage in a warehouse 2 time zones away). We're not giving up, but basically: expungement is a pain in the ass, even if you have the time and money to try for it.

(I am at this moment waiting for a state-specific background check to come in the mail, hoping that it's clean. We may have to leave the country if we can't get working visas, so apologies if I'm too verbose on this topic.)
posted by MsDaniB at 6:24 AM on October 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Credit scores are increasingly being used for things which are basically considered a necessity for modern society (housing rental, insurance, job) and being denied any of these things can feed into a downward spiral from which it’s hard to escape.

That credit scores can be arbitrary, unfair or counterintuitive makes the widespread use of them even worse. For example, a person who consciously decides not to use credit cards as they prefer to not get into debt or pay credit card fees will have a lower credit score, despite the fact that they are arguably acting more responsibly than a person who has a bunch of credit cards. As mentioned above, they’re not a predictor of trustworthiness any more than probably half a dozen other random measures you could use.

I am a relatively conscientious person. Here is how a credit score could have negatively impacted me in a couple of different ways.

Two of my student loans had been taken over by another servicing company a few years back. The company made a couple of errors in applying my payments to the correct loans (they applied the smaller payment to the bigger loan), which gave me red marks for many subsequent months because one of the payments was always showing as late (due to the first one being underpaid). It took me hours of putting together multiple spreadsheets painstakingly detailing my payments, the dates and matching them with the loans they were applied to and another several hours of trying to get someone on the phone at the loan company who would work with me before they corrected *some* of the bad credit marks on my reports. However, some of them were still showing so I went to the two credit agencies that were still showing red marks to dispute them. I had to do both disputes (and both sets of paperwork) separately. They were eventually removed from my report.

Several months ago, I got a threatening notice from a collection agency over some alleged debt in my previous name, which I changed nine years ago. It was supposedly for a debt of around $180 and they were willing to settle for around $30. I moved abroad around that time and knew for a fact that I had paid off every credit card and debt I had before I moved. I’m pretty much positive that there is no debt under my former name. Luckily I had the time to research this on the internet and learn that this is not an uncommon occurrence and get some phrasing for a letter to send (registered mail) to the company asking for specific details of the alleged debt and which company it was incurred with. Surprise, I never heard back from the collection agency.

The point of the above two stories is these things could have or did cause negative marks on my credit reports. Luckily I had the time and resources to devote to spending time researching and disputing these things. There are a lot of people who don’t have that luxury and so…….what? They just get negative marks on their credit, lowering their score through no fault of their own? Which then means that they could potentially be denied a job, apartment, insurance or god knows what else?

This doesn’t even take into consideration things like the recession which caused millions of people to be unemployed for such a length of time that they eventually had to make the choice of, for example, paying their student loans or feeding their family. Which hits their credit score. Or the fact that the leading cause of bankruptcy in America is medical debt. Medical debt. Denying someone a job over these things is bullshit.
posted by triggerfinger at 6:50 AM on October 30, 2013


The HR guy I knew said the drug test was more about seeing whether someone had the self-control to stop smoking pot until they got hired, and afterwards he didn't care.

IE create another meaningless hoop for people to jump through to at best get a slightly smarter (or better tuned to meaningless hoop jumping) candidate.

These sorts of tests, as well as credit checks, are only done because they can be done and have no real cost for the companies doing them. As computer technology and the internet has made this sort of thing increasingly cheap to do, more and more companies and local authorities have started doing this, just because it's possible.
posted by MartinWisse at 6:59 AM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


The system is supposed to be: you're convicted of a crime, then you lose X years of freedom, then you have to go back to your life X years behind. It's not supposed to be: serve X years in prison hen never ever work again.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:07 AM on October 30, 2013


"Who would have thought that Reagan's War on Drugs would fuck over the economy so badly down the road."

The War on Drugs is actually a Nixon invention. Reagan just enthusiastically kept it going.
posted by klangklangston at 8:28 AM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


The War on Drugs is actually a Nixon invention. Reagan just enthusiastically kept it going.

If this is correct, it appears increasing DEA staffing and funding has been pretty bi-partisan. And includes, of course, president Obama.
posted by IndigoJones at 10:16 AM on October 30, 2013


If an applicant can't lay off for a month or two whilst looking for work, knowing that a drug test will be a necessary hoop, it says something about the candidate.

a month or two whilst looking for work

You are a riot, sir.
posted by kafziel at 10:51 PM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


« Older Pirates of the Indian Ocean, thieves in the Red Se...  |  The European Space Agency will... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments