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John Curley: Delayed criminal background check plan bad for business

John Curley argues a proposal prohibiting criminal background checks for prospective new hires before an interview is bad for Seattle businesses. (AP Photo/file)

Business owners in Seattle could soon be prohibited from running criminal background checks on prospective new hires before giving them an interview.

It’s the brainchild of Seattle City Councilman Bruce Harrell, who wants to give people with criminal pasts a better shot at getting a job, KOMO News reports.

“There are many reasons why people recommit, and recidivism is so high because they can’t get access to jobs,” Harrell said.

Harrell’s proposal would prevent most employers from viewing a criminal background until much later in the hiring process.

“On the surface it seems to be a good idea,” said KIRO’s John Curley in response to the proposal. But Curley is vehemently opposed to the idea.

“It’s the government coming in and telling the private business how to run the business,” says Curley.

KOMO reports a number of local businesses support the proposal.

“I’ve interviewed, I’ve hired, I’ve worked with people with past criminal histories,” said Greg Loyd, who manages Zeek’s Pizza.

“If the guy that owns Zeek’s Pizza thinks it’s a good idea, then he can do it,” argued Curley in opposition.

Curley questioned whether Harrell would apply the same standards to city jobs.

“I bet you dollars to donuts when you apply for a job for the city, they run all that crap on you,” he said about criminal background checks.

The rules would exempt businesses where employees work around vulnerable people or senior citizens, and there would be exceptions for public safety issues, KOMO reports.

“What we’re saying is let’s look at the person. Let’s look at the human being, and then we make wise employment decisions from there,” Harrell said.

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