On August 6th, 2019, South Carolina’s capitol city, Columbia, became the first jurisdiction in the state to pass a comprehensive fair hiring ordinance. The ordinance codifies “ban the box,” thus prohibiting blanket lifetime employment discrimination faced by people with convictions. Nearly one-in-three working age South Carolinians has a record, which can lead to a lifetime of stigmatization and barriers in employment, housing, and education. The ordinance begins to address this injustice.. In practice, the ordinance prohibits employers from considering a conviction history until after a conditional offer is made, and provides guidelines for how and when a conviction history can be considered disqualifying. The ordinance applies to all municipal employment, including to contractors and vendors in the city. Following progressive trends, the ordinance also includes previous wage disclosures – meaning that employers cannot ask a job applicant about previous salaries. This is particularly critical for people with convictions who, when employed, on average make 11 percent less than their counterparts without a record.
Below is a statement from Lester Young, South Carolina Statewide Organizer for JustLeadershipUSA’s #WORKINGfuture Campaign:
“This is a monumental step forward for South Carolina. It is a recognition by Mayor Steven Benjamin and the Columbia City Council that employment discrimination against people with conviction histories has devastated our children, families, and communities, – and that we must create opportunities for a better future. The fair hiring ordinance that passed earlier this week is a critical step forward in a state that has long ignored how mass criminalization continues to impact communities, particularly Black and brown people across the state. As a campaign, we applaud the effort of Mayor Benjamin to shepherd the ordinance through the City Council, and believe that it will lead to other jurisdictions throughout the state doing the same.”
“The WORKINGfuture campaign is one that is led by advocates and organizers that are most directly impacted by mass criminalization. We know all too well that a conviction all too often becomes a life sentence which keeps families locked out of opportunity. We will continue to engage with key stakeholders across the state to ensure that everyone has a chance at a #WORKINGfuture.’