Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Felony Convictions and Construction of Apple HQ

Wendy Lee, San Francisco Chronicle:

Several construction workers who were hired to build the exterior of Apple’s new campus in Cupertino were ordered to leave the site in January due to prior felony convictions, several union officials and workers told The Chronicle. The ban is unusual for construction work, a field in which employers typically do not perform criminal background checks.

[…]

For work on the Apple site, anyone with a felony conviction or facing felony charges “does not meet owner standards,” according to documents from construction companies acquired by The Chronicle.

Lee, again, in a follow-up piece:

Apple’s policy of not hiring construction workers with past felony convictions to help build the tech giant’s new campus has drawn the attention of a state senator.

“There are certain positions where there is some nexus between the crime committed and the position offered. Construction does not appear to be one of those,” said state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco. “In this situation, I would strongly suggest that this policy be changed.”

And:

A person familiar with the policy said construction workers with felony convictions within the past seven years are not permitted on the site, while those with earlier felony convictions could find work building the campus. People with “felony charges pending court disposition” are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, said the source.

John Gruber thought the “facing felony charges” portion of the articles was unfair, but he also questioned the uniqueness of this policy:

The “facing felony charges” prohibition is worth noting. Whatever your stance on the prohibition against those convicted of a felony within the last seven years, not hiring those merely facing charges seems blatantly contrary to our tradition of “innocent until proven guilty”.

I’m also curious whether these policies actually are “unusual for construction work” — especially for large companies. On Twitter, Greg Koenig says Intel has the same policy for its D1X chip fab in Oregon.

Regardless of what other companies are doing, this policy is discriminatory to a substantial degree, and does not represent what Apple is typically known for. Felons are people too — if they’ve served their time and are attempting to get back on their feet, any construction company and their clients, by extension, should welcome that. I’m not saying that they’ll be greeted with open arms, as it’s understandably a little foreboding to hire a felon, but they’re probably trying to put that life behind them.