Austin restaurant ignores ‘criminal history’ box on job applications

A Texas restaurant is giving applicants a fresh start, giving former criminals a second chance. 

They are banning the box that asks for a person’s criminal history. 

The owner said it is not about what someone did in the past, but who they are today. 

Hoover’s Cooking has always banned the box. 

At the Austin, Texas, restaurant, what someone did in the past does not have to count against them. 

“We don’t look at that,” said Skip Walker, Manager at Hoover’s. “We talk to them and we take them for what they are today.”
Walker is a prime example. 

“I knew I was capable, I knew I was qualified, but I wasn’t getting any interviews,” he said. “I couldn’t even get my foot in the door.”

Everywhere he applied, his application was tossed out because of an offense in the past. 

“When I got that opportunity, I worked even harder because somebody did give me a second chance,” he said. 

Hoover Alexander was that somebody. 

“If it wasn’t for him, who knows where I’d be,” Walker said. 

Today, Walker’s picture hangs on the restaurant wall. In 16 years, he has worked his way up from bartender to catering manager. 

It’s more people like Walker who council member Greg Casar said a fair chance employment ordinance would help. 

“What we’re trying to make sure is that folks don’t get left out when they are qualified and their criminal history may have absolutely no relationship to the job they’re applying for,” Casar said. 

There would be exceptions for certain fields, like teaching and childcare. 

Banning the box in retail, technology and food industry jobs are the main focus. 

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