Workman Files to Repeal Fair Chance Hiring

Workman's HB 577 would undo Council's job applicant labor protection

On Dec. 13, Rep. Paul Workman, R-Austin, filed HB 577, a bill that would both prevent and roll back local Fair Chance Hiring measures, like the one passed this March by City Council. That resolution, sponsored by CM Greg Casar, requires private employers to hold off on asking about a job applicant's conviction history until a conditional offer of employment is made. The labor protection is meant to level the playing field for job seekers who face discrimination due to their criminal records. During a press conference, Workman said fair chance ordinances infringe on the "rights and liberties" of its citizens. When a local government, such as Austin, "oversteps its boundaries, there will be drastic and unintended consequences," he said. CM Ellen Troxclair, who voted against the local ordinance, joined Workman, calling the policy "burdensome" and a "blanket" mandate, adding, "Local control is not always the answer when it tramples on individual liberty."

Dragging Austin's ridesharing debate into the mix, Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, claimed it was "hypocritical" of City Council to enforce Fair Chance Hiring while asking Uber and Lyft for background checks. (An unequal and misguided parallel, but Aus­tin-bashing from GOP legislators is to be expected.)

In a statement, Casar said the Austin resolution was supported by local chambers of commerce, independently owned businesses, and public officials from all levels of government. In Texas, one in three adults has a criminal record, Casar reminded, and nearly 2,200 residents released from Texas prisons come back to the Austin area each year.

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