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Written Testimony of Victoria Kane Area Director Labor Relations & Integration, Portfolio Hotels & Resorts

Meeting of July 26, 2011 – EEOC to Examine Arrest and Conviction Records as a Hiring Barrier


  • Position with Company, Portfolio Hotels & Resorts
  • Speaker Bio
    • Share experience with workforce development programs in Chicago and Los Angeles hospitality industry for housekeepers, maintenance (i.e. painters, carpentry, machine repairing) and culinary stewards, and cooks.
  • Why is this topic important?
    • Slow recovering unemployment rate in California.
    • U.S. Supreme Court ruled that California's prisons are dangerously overcrowded and state officials must reduce inmate population by roughly 33,000 over 2 years.
    • Career options for formerly incarcerated are too limited to avoid recidivism.

Common Hiring Challenges & Perceived Obstacles (or Myths?)

  • Standard employment policy - prohibits hiring any applicants with convictions
  • Background check - can't afford them or records verifications aren't thorough enough
  • Perception/assumption that all ex-cons are dangerous, rule breakers, will steal from employer and customers, will fight at work, or provoke workplace violence.
  • Worried about image and public opinion - guests, clients, or customers finding out that person serving them is an "ex-con."

Overcoming Hiring Challenges & Perceived Obstacles

  1. Take an internal look at your organization to assess what is possible.
  2. Develop and implement a "Responsible Business Plan."
  3. Get over fears, biases and hiring challenges.
  4. Finding potential partners to achieve hiring objectives and provide on-going support for "riskier" hires.

Internal Look at Organization

  • Job skills & competencies of future desired workforce
    • What work-ready skills should they have coming in the door?
    • Will they work well in a structured environment?
  • Hiring practices, application forms, employee handbook policies & standard operating procedures
    • Background checks and drug testing?
    • Time to change policies due to exceptions made "on occasion"?
  • Workforce pool of applicants
    • Who do your job postings reach now, but who could you reach?
    • Who is a good fit for which job to succeed?
    • Who fails within 90-days or just gets by or needs more training?
    • How many applicants are work-ready, skilled, supported by job coaches, case managers or mentors?

Getting Over Fears, Biases and Unspoken Concerns

  • Learn about Federal Bonding and WOTC benefits.
  • Talk about concerns with Company leaders & employee committees.
  • Talk and learn from employers already participating in these programs.
  • Talk and learn from Community Leaders, WorkSource Centers, Job Training Service Providers & Mentors.
  • Participate in training programs, job fairs and volunteer for mock interview events.
  • Invite groups for interactive operational tours highlighting career paths and employee stories.
  • Jump in and hire one formerly incarcerated job applicant.

WHAT is a Responsible Business?

Celebrate diversity; acknowledge and accept individual differences in beliefs and backgrounds; above all, always care for others, and promote a healthy & safe environment.

Demonstrate social and ethical leadership internally as well as within your community, i.e. partner with WorkSource Centers, schools, non-profit job training programs, then volunteer and donate.

Green efforts to reduce our negative impact on the environment, i.e. recycle, reduce waste, buy local, partner with green vendors, donate gently used goods & leftover food.

Finding Potential Partners

  • Employers can find everything online and send inquiries via email (phone messages usually take a while to get return calls).
    • U.S. DOL website and e-newsletter
    • City, County & State WIB websites
    • WorkSource Centers
    • Non-profit Community Organizations
  • Pay attention to news ads, direct mailers, and emails; and participate in city-wide job fairs. Contact educational institutions about their career fairs, industry-specific training programs, and job skills development classes.
  • Including high schools (G.E.D. and adult learning), community colleges and university programs

Guidance from EEOC

  • Reaching small business owners to inform them about Federal Bonding benefit.
  • Guidelines for all employers to prevent/protect them from negligent hiring legal actions.
  • Guidelines for all employers on drug testing in the workplace policies and working with recovering addicts.
  • Guidelines for Hotel employers to meet duty to provide guests safe and secure accommodations - which means screening for previous sexual offenders; the public/guests concern about hotel employees with sexual criminal histories entering their hotel guest rooms.

"For the majority of us, the past is a regret, the future an experiment." - Mark Twain

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou

My last words of advice: "Stop thinking of the impact on you or your company by giving second chances when hiring, and think of others. How brave are those who ask and work for the chance to try again, wanting only a good life for themselves and their families?"


Thank you.