Sue Bette of Bluebird Barbeque in Burlington testifies in support of Ban the Box legislation
This afternoon, Governor Peter Shumlin signed a bill to ‘Ban the Box’ on employment applications. This new law will require employers to delay inquiring about criminal history until after their other qualifications have been assessed. Banning the box that asks about criminal history on an initial application form gives those with a criminal conviction a fair shot at employment.
“When the legislature began considering a bill to ‘Ban the Box,’ there was no shortage of interest and involvement from small business owners,” said Lindsay DesLauriers, Director of Main Street Alliance of Vermont. “We were happy to work with a great coalition of organizations on this issue, including Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility and the Governor’s Council on Pathways from Poverty."
Sue Bette, owner of Bluebird Barbecue in Burlington, testified during committee hearings and gave a voice to business owners who support fair chance hiring practices.
“During my seven years of owning a business in Vermont, I have employed community members who have a criminal record. In working with these individuals, I have witnessed the difficulties of recovering from this past. I have seen the challenges of balancing a healthy recovery, managing work, life, finances, and family obligations,” said Bette during her testimony to the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing, and General Affairs. “I believe that this policy change will assist in creating a path to success for those who have served their sentence and have earned an opportunity for recovery and to pursue new dreams.”
Other small business owners submitted written testimony, and opinion editorials that helped to inform the conversation. Jason Aprea, owner of BBetter Inc., shared his experience of struggling to get a job post-incarceration and deciding instead to open a gym with his wife. The bill passed with overwhelming support in both the House and Senate.
In addition to Vermont, Main Street Alliance leaders have spoken out in support of Ban the Box and Fair Chance hiring legislation across the national network, most notably in Florida, Oregon, New York, and Virginia.