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New law prohibits employers asking applicants about criminal history

New law prohibits employers asking applicants about criminal history

YAKIMA, Wash.- A bill that would restrict employers from asking people about their criminal history when first applying for jobs is now state law.

Now the employer has to determine if that person if qualified for the job first before asking about convictions.

Governor Jay Inslee signed a bill to “Ban the Box” so that felons have a fair chance at a new start. He tweeted "People who have served their time need to have a chance to be employed again."

People like Leaha Scribner, a Yakima local who finished serving her time at the Yakima County Jail. Still after months on the job hunt, she still remains unemployed and eager to work. The only difference with the new law now she says, is being denied during the interview process rather than not getting a call at all.

"So what's the use of having the "Ban the Box" if they're still running background checks and getting discriminated anyways? Why do we not get the opportunity to not make ourselves better, even though we did out time we are still getting judged," said Scribner.

A Statewide Re-Entry Operator for Workforce Solutions James Walker works closely with people who are in need of jobs including ex-felons. He says this new law will give ex-felons a chance to be seen first as a person and not a criminal, and see's this motivating more ex-felons to apply for jobs.

"I think from a motivational standpoint, there are people who are already facing significant challenges. So it is a door opener from that standpoint and motivation for people who want to have a new start," said Walker.

The law excludes jobs in law enforcement, state agencies, schools and other jobs that involve children, disabled or vulnerable adults.

Scribner says this is a step in the right direction, but says there needs to be more programs and help centers available in Yakima for felons to get a better shot a securing the job.

"People mess up, they take things for granted, but not everybody does that. I've done my time, but now I'm trying to be a productive member of society," said Scribner.

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