House Democrats introduced a bill to block forms of federal grants from going to employers that conduct criminal background checks, or even “inquire” about the criminal history of an applicant.
The bill, introduced by Representatives David Trone and Maxine Waters, seeks to “amend” the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 by “conditioning eligibility for grants” under the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program.
JAG grants, according to the Department of Justice, compose the “leading source of federal justice funding to state and local jurisdictions.” The program “provides states, tribes, and local governments with critical funding necessary to support a range of program areas” including crime victim and witness initiatives, mental health programs, and crime prevention.
The bill would amend the program by introducing an “eligibility” clause for private employers, excluding grant recipients from requiring applicants to disclose their criminal records. What’s more, businesses aren’t even allowed to “‘inquire” about the matter with applicants or “conduct a criminal background check”:
‘‘ELIGIBILITY.—Beginning with the third fiscal year that begins after the date of the enactment of the Workforce Justice Act of 2021, to be eligible for an allocation under this section, a State shall have enacted and be implementing legislation that prohibits private employers from—
‘‘(A) requiring an applicant to disclose whether the applicant has a criminal record;
‘‘(B) inquiring about the criminal record of an applicant prior to a conditional offer of employment; and
‘‘(C) conducting a criminal background check on an applicant prior to a conditional offer of employment.’’