It’s no secret that Austin, Texas is a prosperous town largely because of our brand as a progressive, inclusive, innovative place. But we’re also facing serious challenges: Austin is one of the most economically segregated regions in America, which means a significant portion of Austinites are not sharing in our city’s prosperity. Almost a year ago, Council Member Greg Casar sponsored a proposal for Fair Chance Hiring in Austin to extend economic opportunities and expand civil rights for tens of thousands of people in our city. Fair Chance Hiring laws are anti-discriminatory at heart and require employers to consider a job candidate’s qualifications first, without the stigma of a conviction history, before running a background check at the end of the hiring process. Stable employment helps prevent recidivism and re-incarceration, so fair chance hiring policies also improve public safety for our community.
Today, Mayor Steve Adler signed the Fair Chance Hiring ordinance, setting rules for thousands of private employers in the city. The new law received a broad range of support from several local and state elected officials throughout Central Texas, including the Presidents and CEOs of the Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Austin Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, and the Austin Young Chamber of Commerce. The Fair Chance Hiring ordinance will help more people participate in our mainstream economy, which we know is best for our community and our economy as a whole. We showed that we’re a city that believes in second chances and that inclusion, not exclusion, will make us stronger.
Austin is proud to be the first fair chance hiring city in the South, and we hope more cities will follow suit.