An enduring belief in the American dream has powered decades of innovation, inspired generations of entrepreneurs and driven the economic growth of our nation. But that dream is fraying for the nearly one in three US adults — or 70 million Americans — who have a criminal record. For many of these individuals, a criminal record poses a significant barrier to employment, even when the record includes only a misdemeanor arrest or conviction.
The Philadelphia City Council approved a measure April 22 prohibiting most employers in the city from testing new hires for marijuana use. The bill makes it illegal for companies “to require a prospective employee to submit to testing for the presence of marijuana” before hiring them. But the legislation exempts many types of jobs, including law enforcement, those who need a commercial driver’s license, health care workers, and “any position in which the employee could significantly impact the health or safety of other employees or members of the public.” Employers with unionized workforces could still conduct testing for marijuana if employees agreed to testing in their collective bargaining contracts.
At the New York restaurant Eleven Madison Park, a recent job posting for a sommelier lists a string of necessary skills, including exceptional wine knowledge and an ability to lift 50 pounds. The last requirement on the list: a COVID-19 vaccination. As the U.S. job market heats up, positions operating machines in Louisville, Ky., working in offices in Houston and waiting on diners in Manhattan now require that candidates be vaccinated—or be willing to get their COVID-19 shot within 30 days of hire.
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