Employers who are no longer allowed to ask about an applicant’s criminal history are now using racial profiling instead.
Prior to the laws, white job applicants received about 7 percent more call-backs on job applications than similarly qualified black applicants. After the laws, this advantage soared all the way to 45 percent. That’s hardly an encouraging development, as one of the chief goals of “ban the box” is to improve economic opportunities for non-whites.
The reason for the gap isn’t entirely clear, but the researchers have a compelling theory: having been deprived of information about applicants’ criminal history, employers are simply engaging in racial profiling instead. Overall, blacks are substantially more likely than other races to have spent time behind bars, but criminal history boxes enabled non-criminal blacks to stand apart from criminal ones. Now, all blacks are being tagged with the same brush.
On the flip side, the researchers suggested whites may be reaping the full benefit of the laws, as they [criminals] are now lumped in with other whites in being assumed to have no criminal history.
Does a black graduate of an elite university suffer from the stigma that his qualifications are lower than many white graduates, and even white applicants? Ask Clarence Thomas; ask Michelle or Barack O’Bama.