People seeking Ann Arbor city jobs will no longer need to disclose criminal convictions on their job application forms.
The Ann Arbor City Council has voted unanimously to remove that requirement except for police and fire department positions.
The city will still conduct background checks, but only for applicants who are otherwise qualified for the job and who have received a conditional job offer from the city.
Chuck Warpehoski, one of four co-sponsors of the resolution, said a conviction will not bar employment unless it is relevant to the specific job. "If we are hiring somebody who's going to be working with money – a cashier or something like that, then an embezzlement violation is relevant. But that wouldn't necessarily be relevant for somebody who's just filling potholes," he said.
Warpehoski said the best way to preserve public safety and to keep people from returning to prison is to give them a fair chance at a job. "If we put up barriers for them becoming productive members of the community, then they're just going to go back to the behaviors and income sources that got them in trouble in the first place," he said.
The resolution notes that individuals who have served prison time can be discouraged from applying for a job when they need to report a criminal conviction on the application. It also says that every year about 300 people return to Washtenaw County from prison after serving their sentences.
Virginia Gordan, Michigan Radio Newsroom