D.C. Council member Marion Barry muscled past Chairman Phil Mendelson on Thursday to send a bill that offers new anti-discrimination protections to ex-offenders to the full council for a vote.
The Ward 8 council member and former mayor persuaded the Aging and Community Affairs Committee to approve legislation that bars employers from asking about a person’s criminal record until after a job offer is made. Employers could only rescind offers if the applicant’s past convictions are directly relevant to the job.
If denied a job, applicants could appeal decisions to the Office of Human Rights — in effect giving formerly incarcerated residents protections afforded to other minority groups.
“This bill is about discrimination in America,” said Barry (D), who was convicted of possessing crack cocaine in 1990. “My view is people who break the law, that they serve their time and . . . if you paid your debt, you paid your debt.”