On August 13, 2015, GJP hosted an event to bring together a diverse group of community stakeholders, including representatives from local workforce development organizations and non-profits focused on employment. The event focused on the use of criminal history information by private employers to deny employment opportunities for people with criminal histories. The event featured staff from the Atlanta District Office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as well as private attorneys specializing in civil actions against private companies in violation of federal and state laws.
Despite recent policy reforms in Georgia that reduce barriers to employment and improve the accuracy of information provided to employers,thousands of Georgians continue to be unfairly denied employment. Most applicants with a criminal history in Georgia do not get any further in the hiring process than submitting the application. Georgia’s new “ban the box” policy id a positive step in the right direction, but it does not extend to private employers. There are some state and federal protections; however, many applicants and service-providers are unaware of neither these rights nor how to enforce them, and the local offices intended to safeguard state and federal protections state that they do not hear enough of these types of cases.
The event was designed to accomplish five goals: 1) to develop a more enhanced understanding of the legal rights and protections for job applicants with a criminal history in Georgia, 2) to increase the ability of service providers to connect program participants to appropriate resources, 3) for federal offices and private attorneys interested in enforcing these rights to be aware of the prominence of the potential violations of the laws, 4) to promote best practices for engaging employers on these issues, and 5) to encourage interested stakeholders to engage in advocacy efforts that improve the laws in Georgia..
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