Duke will no longer require job applicants to disclose criminal history

Applicants to jobs at Duke will no longer have to say whether or not they have been convicted of a crime, according to a news release.  

"While responses to the question are not currently shared with hiring managers, asking for this information in an application can lead to a misperception among applicants that the responses are used to filter out those with a criminal record from employment opportunities at Duke," said Kyle Cavanaugh, vice president for administration, in the release. 

In an email to The Chronicle, Cavanaugh wrote that administration had two meetings with subgroups of students about the change.

"This has been something under discussion and review for some time," he wrote.

The change, which is in line with the national push to "ban the box," was one of the demands issued by the People's State of the University last semester. This is the first of PSOTU's demands to be met by administrators.

Cavanaugh explained that other schools have made the change to comply with local laws on the subject.

"I certainly don’t think we can [say] we are first, but I do think you can say that is rare that a institution makes this move when not also being required to do so by local law," he wrote.

The new policy, effective Nov. 1, will not stop Duke from conducting background checks. Duke will still do background checks for government sanctions, criminal records and driving record history—when relevant. These checks will be performed during the offer stage for finalists for positions that have been "recommended for hire," according to the release. 

The release noted that a criminal record does not "necessarily preclude" a person from getting a job at Duke. 

"Convictions are evaluated on a case-by-case basis in which hiring officials will consider the nature and gravity of the offense, the date of conviction, and its relationship to the job," the release said. 

Senior Trey Walk, an organizer in PSOTU, noted that the policy change is important because Duke is the largest employer in Durham and it sets an example for other businesses in the area. 

He said he hopes it has a cascading effect on the area, but noted that "second-chance hiring" goes beyond removing the initial disclosure. Going forward, the student organization and community partners are pushing for targeted hiring and skills training.

Senior Sydney Roberts, an organizer for PSOTU and a co-chair of The Chronicle's independent editorial board, said these can have positive economic impacts on local families.

"There are no downsides to these changes," Roberts said.

The change is in line with the direction in which Duke has been moving on the issue, Cavanaugh wrote to The Chronicle.

"Duke transitioned to the required [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission] guidelines several years ago, and the move to eliminating the self-disclosure section on applications will not be a huge lift," Cavanaugh wrote.

Bre Bradham

Bre is a senior political science major from South Carolina, and she is the current video editor, special projects editor and recruitment chair for The Chronicle. She is also an associate photography editor and an investigations editor. Previously, she was the editor-in-chief and local and national news department head. 

Twitter: @brebradham

Email: breanna.bradham@duke.edu

Ben Leonard profile
Ben Leonard

Managing Editor 2018-19, 2019-2020 Features & Investigations Editor 

A member of the class of 2020 hailing from San Mateo, Calif., Ben is The Chronicle's Towerview Editor and Investigations Editor. Outside of the Chronicle, he is a public policy major working towards a journalism certificate, has interned at the Tampa Bay Times and NBC News and frequents Pitchforks. 


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