Governor Edwards signs legislation that should help prevent employment discrimination against those who were charged but never convicted of a crime. New Orleans Representative Matthew Willard said under his bill a business cannot request a background check for an applicant if it did not lead to a conviction.

“And if a business receives that information of a background check that didn’t lead to a conviction they’re supposed to ignore that,” Willard said.

Willard said his legislation also attempts to help out convicted felons who are out of jail and seeking a job.

“It requires a business to provide the background check that was conducted on the applicant if the applicant requests that background check in writing,” Willard said.

The bill also calls for businesses to consider the nature of a convicted felon’s offense and how long it has been since the offense was committed.

Willard said his legislation started as an attempt to outright ban private-sector employers from asking if an applicant has a felony record. While that was a bridge too far this year for the business community.

“We have to continue moving the ball forward and after this accomplishment, we need to come back to the table and say how can we move the ball forward with the overall goal in mind,” Willard said.

Currently, state agencies have “banned the box” and do not require applicants to note whether they are convicted felons.

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