A bill heard this week in the House Judiciary Committee could have the dual impact of helping alleviate workforce challenges and keeping ex-offenders from returning to the criminal justice system.
The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry supports HB 1969, sponsored by Rep. Alex Riley (R-Springfield). The Civil Liability for Hiring Ex-Offenders Act would, according to Rep. Riley, “protect against causes of action against employers simply for hiring those who have been involved in the criminal justice system.”
Heidi Geisbuhler Sutherland, director of legislative affairs for the Missouri Chamber, said, “One of the major issues identified when we conduct our annual poll of business leaders is that they can’t find enough workers. This is a great way to give those employers, especially small businesses, a little more peace of mind when making those hiring decisions.”
The bill specifies certain violent and sexual offenses that are excluded from this protection. It also does not preclude a cause of action for failure of an employer to adequately supervise an employee who has had prior criminal involvement.
Both Rep. Riley and Geisbuhler Sutherland emphasized the importance for the individuals seeking to re-enter the workforce.
“A lot of folks who have been involved in the criminal justice system would like to start putting their lives back together,” Rep. Riley stated, with Geisbuhler Sutherland adding that “gainful employment is a major factor in reducing recidivism, and this legislation would help create more job opportunities for people with a criminal record.”
For more information, contact Geisbuhler Sutherland at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-634-3511.