Fair Chance Hiring

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This public input has concluded.

The Denton City Council is considering the adoption of a Fair Chance Hiring Ordinance and is seeking public feedback.

Fair chance hiring initiatives (also known as “ban the box” initiatives due to their goal of removing criminal history question boxes in job applications) generally refer to a policy or practice of not considering an applicant’s criminal history in an employment application until later in the hiring process. This information is then typically obtained once a conditional offer has been made. Importantly, these initiatives and their related ordinances, do not limit the authority of an employer to withdraw an employment offer for a lawful reason.

The proposed ordinance would generally prohibit employers from the following activities if it results in unlawful discrimination:

  1. Publishing information that states or implies that criminal history is an automatic disqualifier for employment;
  2. Soliciting or otherwise inquiring about criminal history on a job application;
  3. Soliciting criminal history information or considering criminal history prior to a conditional employment offer;
  4. Refusing to consider an applicant because criminal history was not provided prior to a conditional employment offer; or
  5. Taking adverse action against an individual due to criminal history unless the individual is unsuitable for the job based on an individualized assessment.


The proposed ordinance does not prohibit an employer from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history if there are federal or state laws that require a criminal history check. There are laws that disqualify a person from holding a particular position due to a conviction for a certain offense (e.g., child day care facilities, public safety positions, certain financial or insurance positions) or where there is no discriminatory or disparate impact.

The proposed ordinance would be part of the existing Non-Discrimination Ordinance (NDO) and all administrative and enforcement provisions currently applied to NDO complaints would also apply to fair chance hiring complaints. Just as the NDO directs that for complaints where the state or federal government has jurisdiction, those complainants be referred to those entities, fair chance hiring complainants will be referred to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or other applicable agency.

Also similar to the NDO, if a federal or state government does not have jurisdiction, the City will investigate the complaint and determine if discrimination is likely to have occurred. If discrimination is likely to occur, the City will work with the two parties to conciliate the complaint and, if a conciliation agreement cannot be met, the matter may be referred to the City Prosecutor for review and possible issuance of a Class C Misdemeanor citation.

The Denton City Council is considering the adoption of a Fair Chance Hiring Ordinance and is seeking public feedback.

Fair chance hiring initiatives (also known as “ban the box” initiatives due to their goal of removing criminal history question boxes in job applications) generally refer to a policy or practice of not considering an applicant’s criminal history in an employment application until later in the hiring process. This information is then typically obtained once a conditional offer has been made. Importantly, these initiatives and their related ordinances, do not limit the authority of an employer to withdraw an employment offer for a lawful reason.

The proposed ordinance would generally prohibit employers from the following activities if it results in unlawful discrimination:

  1. Publishing information that states or implies that criminal history is an automatic disqualifier for employment;
  2. Soliciting or otherwise inquiring about criminal history on a job application;
  3. Soliciting criminal history information or considering criminal history prior to a conditional employment offer;
  4. Refusing to consider an applicant because criminal history was not provided prior to a conditional employment offer; or
  5. Taking adverse action against an individual due to criminal history unless the individual is unsuitable for the job based on an individualized assessment.


The proposed ordinance does not prohibit an employer from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history if there are federal or state laws that require a criminal history check. There are laws that disqualify a person from holding a particular position due to a conviction for a certain offense (e.g., child day care facilities, public safety positions, certain financial or insurance positions) or where there is no discriminatory or disparate impact.

The proposed ordinance would be part of the existing Non-Discrimination Ordinance (NDO) and all administrative and enforcement provisions currently applied to NDO complaints would also apply to fair chance hiring complaints. Just as the NDO directs that for complaints where the state or federal government has jurisdiction, those complainants be referred to those entities, fair chance hiring complainants will be referred to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or other applicable agency.

Also similar to the NDO, if a federal or state government does not have jurisdiction, the City will investigate the complaint and determine if discrimination is likely to have occurred. If discrimination is likely to occur, the City will work with the two parties to conciliate the complaint and, if a conciliation agreement cannot be met, the matter may be referred to the City Prosecutor for review and possible issuance of a Class C Misdemeanor citation.

This public input has concluded.

Please submit your questions regarding the proposed Fair Chance Hiring ordinance.

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    There is an exemption for jobs requiring a background check but who decides whether that exemption actually applies? Also how does this affect the affirmative defense created under state law for employers of service & delivery people whose job it is to go inside customer’s homes?

    GraceWeatherly asked 5 months ago

    The prospective employer in making its hiring decision will be responsible for determining whether an exemption applies. If a complaint is filed, and if the complaint is referred to the state or federal agency responsible for investigating employment discrimination complaints, that agency will determine whether an exemption applies. If the state/federal agency determines it does not have jurisdiction over the complaint, the complaint will be investigated by a third-party investigator hired by the City, who will be responsible for determining whether an exemption applies. If the investigator determines an exemption applies, the complaint will be closed. Regardless of who investigates the complaint, a prospective employer would be allowed to assert any affirmative defense allowed by law and a final determination on the merits of the complaint would be made by the investigating authority.

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    How can the city get involved in a private companies hiring practices? Especially having them waste their time interviewing someone they will not hire because of there criminal back ground.

    Denton asked 5 months ago

    Local, state, and federal governments have the right to regulate, within certain parameters, the hiring practices of private companies to protect individuals from illegal acts of an employer. For example, the United States Congress has passed legislation that prohibits certain actions of an employer, such as child labor prohibitions and protections, and discrimination in employment based upon being a member of a protected class, including but not limited to race, religion, national origin, age, and disability.

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    So what is to prevent a convicted pedophile from applying for a job at a child care center? Do you think that is ok--really? Gee, what could go wrong?? This proposal is insane. This is government overreach, and we believe the City Council should BACK OFF and leave businesses alone. Glenda and Robert Kallman

    Glenda asked 6 months ago

    There are laws that disqualify a person from holding a particular position due to a conviction for a certain offense (e.g., persons employed by child day care facilities, public safety positions, certain financial or insurance positions) so, employers for those positions would not violate the ordinance merely by performing a criminal history check unless they did so in a manner that was also in violation of federal or state law.

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    Will organizations and businesses that work with vulnerable communities (child care, pregnancy care, human trafficking recovery, etc.) still be able to require criminal background checks, even in the absence of federal regulations requiring them?

    6 months ago

    A Fair Chance Hiring Ordinance does not prohibit an employer from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history if there are federal or state laws that require a criminal history check, or if a conviction of a criminal offense would disqualify a person from holding a particular position (e.g., child day care facilities, public safety positions, certain financial or insurance positions) Further, a criminal history check may still be performed, provided it does not result in illegal discrimination, including by a disparate impact of such checks.

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    Have you considered the unintended consequence, which has been documented following similar "ban the box" initiatives, that employers may simply avoid hiring anyone who seems like they may have had a criminal background, thus actually narrowing hiring opportunities instead of increasing them?

    6 months ago

    Thank you for your feedback. One of the reasons the City is providing multiple opportunities for community and business input is to ensure we are considering any potential unforeseen and unintended consequences.