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Criminals: The New Protected Class

Employers in Washington, D.C. may soon be banned from considering criminal convictions in hiring, if the criminal's probation or parole officer thinks he has "achieved a degree of rehabilitation," under a bill sponsored by ex-con Marion Barry. Criminals will become a new protected class. The D.C. Council apparently voted unanimously to ban such discrimination against ex-convicts on December 11. If it repeats the vote on December 19, the approval of the ban will be final, according to the December 11 issue of the Legal Times. Civil-rights legislation started out as a way to require that people be judged based on the content of their character, not irrelevant characteristics like race. But now, employers will be prevented from looking at the content of the character of certain criminals. Amazingly, leftist groups like the D.C. Employment Justice Project and the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights are criticizing the bill for not going far enough to protect criminals. This legislation will do further damage to the business climate in the District of Columbia, and will further erode what little freedom of association D.C. Employers have left.