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Arlington Will No Longer Ask Job Applicants About Criminal Record

Jail cell(Updated at 3:40 p.m.) Arlington County will no longer ask many job applicants about their criminal record prior to an interview.

The county announced today it would be “banning the box” on job applications that asked prospective employees about their criminal records. A current application for an open position on the county’s website doesn’t include a criminal record question.

“Taking this step reinforces our commitment to fair hiring practices,” said Marcy Foster, the county’s Department of Human Resources director, in a press release. “And ‘banning the box’ will help ensure that happens.”

For positions related to public safety, like police officers and firefighters, asking about criminal convictions will still be part of the application process, and “questions regarding criminal convictions may still be asked at the time of the interview,” the county said.

By “banning the box,” Arlington joins Alexandria, Newport News, Norfolk and Richmond — along with 10 states — as jurisdictions that no longer ask about criminal convictions in the first phase of job applications. While criminal records never were a disqualification for employment in Arlington, the county said, “they can be a barrier to employment for anyone with a criminal record, negatively impacting millions of Americans.”

“Allowing these candidates to proceed further into the process creates opportunities that may otherwise have been lost, and provides candidates with a more level playing field during the application process,” the press release states.

Arlington will also no longer ask questions about convictions for driving under the influence, except for jobs that require the applicant to operate a motor vehicle. If a candidate is selected for a job, the county will still perform its standard background check.

“Allowing these candidates to proceed further into the process creates opportunities that may otherwise have been lost, and provides candidates with a more level playing field during the application process,” the county said, in a press release. “Arlington County is committed to being an equal opportunity employer, and to attracting, developing and retaining a diverse workforce to serve the community.”

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