Curren Price

L.A. officials may bar employers from asking right away about crimes

As he searches for a new job, South Los Angeles resident Rogelio Martinez dreads the box he is routinely asked to check on application forms: Has he ever been convicted of a crime?

Martinez, 44, says he has kicked his drug habit. He has a mortgage, a family and a closet full of crisp shirts and ties. And he has years of work experience helping attorneys file their court documents.

But that doesn’t matter to a new employer who only sees his criminal record. “I made a mistake when I was young. I’ve changed since then,” said Martinez. He said he has past convictions for selling marijuana and for grand theft, the latter of which he denies committing....