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“Any Felony Convictions?” It’s Illegal to Ask.

Written by John Odermatt on November 15, 2013

Liberals never seem to learn from their prior mistakes. It is hard to find a better example of a liberal disaster in the United States than Michigan. The “Great Lakes State” symbolizes the destruction that results from massive intervention by the State. The state of Michigan is a graveyard littered with formerly productive companies that had their capacity to produce castrated by crippling Statist policies.

Unfortunately, for the good people of Michigan, politicians that are like-minded to those that played a role in the destruction remain in power. Evidence of this can be found in a MLive article that reports on legislation knows as “Ban-the-Box,” which was introduced in March by Rep. Fred Durhal Jr., D-Detroit. This liberal dream is gaining momentum in the Michigan Legislature.

The bill would ban employers from asking prospective employees about previous felony convictions. There has not yet been a vote, but the House Commerce Committee heard testimony on the bill this past week.

Michigan would not be the first place to enact such a law. Fifty-three localities throughout the US have approved “Ban-the-Box” legislation in the past nine years. Cities such as Boston, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Atlanta, Austin, Memphis, and Tampa have all adopted laws which make it illegal, in some capacity, for employers to ask prospective hires to disclose previous felony convictions. By in large, most of the laws are only applicable to vendors or contractors doing business with the city. Additionally, many of the laws still require a background check for certain positions or after the offer has been extended.

Why should libertarians and conservatives be fervently opposed to this type of legislation?

From a purely libertarian perspective, the State intervening in the hiring practices of businesses is a blatant violation of the non-aggression principle. Certainly, the State would enforce their hiring edict with fines. If businesses refuse to pay the fines, then an armed employee of the State will eventually show up at the business to confiscate the funds at the point of a gun.  So from a libertarian, non-violent, Christian, or moral perspective this type of behavior cannot be condoned.

The practice of the State proclaiming what an employer can ask a potential employee does not add value from a logical or utilitarian view. To validate this outlook I’ll share a personal experience.

(For the rest of the article, click the link.)

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14 thoughts on ““Any Felony Convictions?” It’s Illegal to Ask.

  1. After one has paid one's debt to societyby serving time in prison, I would support not being concerned about previous convictions. Judge the person on an individual basis, not only because they have run afoul of the law.
    50% of folks in jail are there because of non-violent drug crimes.
    Others were just young, foolish and in the wrong place at the wrong time yet they are prohibited from even applying for many many jobs.
    It is not right.

    All this being said, the problem is the government requirement that one MUST(required by law) ask if they have a criminal record.

    I agree. It is NOT the government's business.

  2. Run a credit check to weed them out.

  3. Debt paid does not erase the deed done. By Stevie's logic, there would be no reason to ask a perspective child care giver if they were by chance a convicted child molester.

    You may not be worried about the type of person you hire, and your customers may not care, but for most employers, a criminal record goes to the kind of person they may or may not hire.

  4. hate state says:


  5. Take a deep breath and turn your Caps Lock off.

    If the state charges were bogus, or inflated, or not representative of the indivdual, then they could put it in context when asked. Even if the state made the felons, they then have the right to explain the circumstances to a perspective employer. The employer then has the right to hire or not.

  6. If a company is concerned about an individual’s past then run a background check as part of the hiring process.
    In many cases a person who has a criminal record is denied the chance to get a fresh start because of narrow minded people in control of hiring. The debt to society is paid once the individual has served their time in prison and/or probation. They deserve a chance to prove themselves and an opportunity to bece a productive member of society after their debt is paid.
    Prejudice in hiring because of ones past is as wrong as prejudice against hiring because of ones race. Without knowing the totality of the circumstances how can you deny employment based on the check mark in a box.

  7. illinois the state of corruption also passed the same law and the demonratic governor quinn cant wait to sign it along with the gay marriage bill that they forced upon the people

  8. I work for a bank. When hiring for jobs in banking, it is illegal NOT to ask. Banks face MASSIVE fines for every day a person with a felony conviction is on the payroll.

  9. NO ONE is denied a fresh start because of narrow minded people hiring. They are denied positions they have PROVEN they can't be trusted in and are too narrow minded to accept other positions as a MEANS of proving themselves. There is a FUNDAMENTAL difference between judging someone based on their ACTIONS and judging them based on something they have ZERO control over. If you think they are the same, I would refuse to hire you based entirely on that belief.

  10. You seem to be confused about what a CREDIT check is. A criminal records check is where felony convictions would appear. I haven't seen the actual law, but it is only logical that if they ban asking about felony convictions, they would aslo ban obtaining a criminal record, precisely because allowing them would gut the ban on asking.

  11. The crooks in Illinois have passed the same law , you cannot ask about felony convictions and gov . quinn cannot wait to sign it into law along with gay marriage ,remember this was passed by politicians (democrats ) not the citizens of the state .

  12. The felons chose to violate the law. That’s what made them felons not the state

  13. It’s my business I decide how it’s run, who I hire and what questions I’m gonna ask in my interviews. State law or not.

  14. Catherine says:

    Sadly, the real problem with Michigan is not merely its over-reaching, micro-managing government policies, but the fact that its voting population ELECTED Michigan's government "representatives" that come up with such policies and enact them into law.

    "Now more than ever the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature. . . . [I]f the next centennial does not find us a great nation . . . it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces."–James A. Garfield, July 1877.