Fair Chance Hiring Act would help former criminals find jobs

LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - A bill that would require employers to postpone criminal checks in the hiring process went before the Nebraska Unicam on Monday.

Sen. John McCollister introduced the Fair Chance Hiring Act. The goal is to give former criminals a chance at landing a job on their merits, rather than being quickly disqualified for their crimes.

If the bill passes, public and private company employers would have to wait until an applicant got through the minimum requirement phase of the hiring process before doing a criminal record check.

"But would simply bar this inquiry on the initial application. This would allow an applicant who may have made a mistake in his or her past to at least get a foot in the door to meet with a potential employer," the McCollister said.

Sean Miller has a bachelor's degree and is a trained paralegal, but he committed a crime. He testified in favor of LB254.

"I tried applying for a notary here at the state, and I was denied that because of my record. i tried to apply for correctional officer and I was denied that. I'm 38 years old. These convictions happened when I was 16," Miller said. "I can't even driver Uber at this point."

Opponents of the bill were businesses that said the law would require unnecessary complications within their companies.

Miller said he thinks the bill could have another positive consequence, by potentially lowering the changes of former criminals returning to prison.

"The recidivism rate, this is what causes it, when people try to go the good route and then they get into a dead end, and survival mode kicks in," Miller said.

Organizations that require no criminal record for employment - such as law enforcement agencies - would be exempt from the law. Businesses employing 15 people or less would also be exempt.