Florida Business Owners Support Fair Hiring Legislation

Main Street Florida Leader Paul Heroux providing comment to the Daytona City Commission Main Street Florida Leader Paul Heroux providing comment to the Daytona City Commission
Main Street Alliance of Florida members travelled to Daytona Beach Wednesday night to join in a presentation to the Daytona City Commission on ‘ban the box’ legislation. The legislation would remove the question, “Have you ever been convicted of a felony,” from job applications allowing applicants to be considered based on their experience and qualifications. The legislation was presented by our allies at the Vincentian Re-Entry Organizing Project and small business owners from across Florida voiced their support for the measure. Our members and leaders seek the most talented and hardest working candidates to fill their positions, regardless of criminal background. They are committed to giving all applicants a fair shot at employment and allowing them to interview for open positions without discrimination or pre-judgment.  ‘Ban the box’ would not eliminate background checks, but it would allow an applicant to address their previous convictions in person during the interview process.
Leader Paul Heroux told the commission, “I’ve heard people say that ‘ban the box’ is an attempt by people like me to hide our criminal records. I am not interested in hiding my record, I just want the chance to have that conversation.” Heroux is a veteran of the Florida prison system and started his own construction business after he was unable to find employment upon his release.
Members who were unable to attend the meeting provided comments to be read to the commission including Ricardo McQueen who said, “When a prisoner is released into a society that won’t allow them a fair chance at employment it is like they were never set free. They paid their debt to society, they served their time, now they deserve a chance to provide for their families and better their lives. Denying employment opportunities is a life-long sentence that the judge or jury never ordered.” Ricardo owns Food Health and Environmental Safety, and volunteers his time to help new entrepreneurs get started in business. Many of the aspiring business owners Ricardo works with have previous felony convictions or are from neighborhoods such as Pine Hills, and Parramore that are disproportionately affected by discriminatory hiring practices. Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry told the overflowing room in the Daytona City Hall that ‘ban the box’ was legislation that he personally supported, and he called on the Commissioners to come to an agreement on this issue soon. Alliance members will continue to speak out in favor of the legislation in Daytona Beach and plan to turn their efforts towards fair hiring legislation in Orlando in the coming months.

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