San Francisco has always been at the forefront of recognizing new protected categories.  For example, the city has prohibited employment discrimination based on height or weight for over a decade. Now, the city’s Human Rights Commission wants to add a new protected category: criminal convictions.

If the HRC has its way, employers and landlords will be prohibited from considering criminal convictions in hiring and housing decisions.  Hearings on the proposal begin next week.

Listen, I know for a fact that there are people with convictions in their pasts who have “paid their debt to society” and have the skills and abilities to perform admirably in the workplace.  But there are also those whose prior criminal — sometimes violent — behavior makes them a liability.  So why shouldn’t employers be allowed to consider an applicant’s prior criminal convictions when making a hiring decision?

Hopefully, resistance to this proposal will be strong enough to cause the Commission to rethink its actions.  But if not, look on the bright side.  If the proposal becomes law, and you go to prison for violating it, you can get a job and a place to stay when you get out.