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Barry's Bill On Ex-Offender Hiring Fails At D.C. Council

Council chair Mendelson used procedural rules to prevent vote

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D.C. Council member Marion Barry failed Tuesday in his most recent attempt to pass anti-discrimination legislation against ex-offenders.
Mallory Noe-Payne
D.C. Council member Marion Barry failed Tuesday in his most recent attempt to pass anti-discrimination legislation against ex-offenders.

A proposal by D.C. Council member Marion Barry to provide anti-discrimination protections for ex-offenders when they are applying for jobs fell short at the D.C. Council Tuesday. The bill would prohibit employers from asking about an applicant's criminal record until a job offer has been made.

Barry's bill, which has been on the council's agenda for years, never came to a vote Tuesday because Council Chairman Phil Mendelson ruled that Barry had been out of order in his handling of a committee vote on the bill last Thursday that paved the way for the measure to come to the full council.

Barry compared his bill to past legislative efforts to combat discrimination: women's suffrage, the civil rights movement, protections for migrant workers. 

Under the proposed legislation, a job offer offer could only be rescinded based on a criminal record if the potential employee's convictions posed a problem for that specific occupation. Applicants denied a job could appeal to the city's Office of Human Rights, the agency that handles discrimination cases for protected classes. 

Many in the business community were worried the bill would tie up companies in litigation. 

Barry repeatedly clashed with Mendelson during the council debate Tuesday over the bill. Later on Twitter, Barry wrote: "Are you happy Phil, you were successful in your quest to defeat anti-discrimination against the last and the least in their efforts to work." 

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