City of Lakeland removes criminal record checkbox for employment

Applying for a job with the city of Lakeland will no longer require revealing a criminal record.

"This is about giving someone a second chance," said city spokesman Kevin Cook.

Eventually, the city would find out about the applicant's history through a background check, but only after the person was interviewed.

Lakeland is joining a long list of places that have already banned the box. They include Tampa, Orlando and 150 other cities and counties across the country.

The city says before hiring anyone with a record, it would take into consideration what crime the person committed, how long ago it happened, what they have done since then, and the nature of the offense.

City Manager Shawn Sherrouse said it doesn't mean the city runs the risk of hiring convicted child molesters or killers. Potential employees will still undergo background checks.

Critics of the box say if a potential employee is required to disclose minor offenses on the initial application, companies may discount them prematurely. Banning the box is one step toward avoiding that.