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City Manager Ron Carlee Decides To "Ban The Box"

Tasnim Shamma

Charlotte City Manager Ron Carlee officially "banned the box" on Friday. Applicants for city jobs will now no longer see a question about prior convictions on the initial application. The exception will be for public safety jobs – like police officers or airport employees.

Applicants will be asked about criminal history much later in the process -- in some departments after several rounds of interviews.

The city's human resources director Cheryl Brown, says Carlee decided to remove the question after a year-long campaign called "Ban The Box." That campaign was led by the Charlotte School of Law's Civil Rights Clinic. Residents came out to city council meetings and said they didn’t bother applying to city jobs because they knew the question would be asked.

"Nothing will change with our criminal background checking process," Brown says. "We haven't in any way lowered the standards by removing any of those steps. The only thing that we've made a significant change with is the removal of the question."

Last year, city council members voted to have the council's economic development committee review the city's application process and decided to leave the decision on whether to remove this question to city manager Ron Carlee.

Human Resources director Cheryl Brown says she expects the number of applications for city jobs to increase as a result of Carlee's decision.   

Brown says currently about eight to ten percent of the approximately 6,800 city employees have been convicted of crimes greater than minor traffic violations.