More than 100 counties and cities nationwide in 19 states have recently adopted “Ban the Box” laws. Employers and small businesses should be aware that these laws compel employers to consider job applicant qualifications first, not their past behavior.
“Past” refers to a criminal record history including convictions. “Ban the Box” refers to employers not requiring job applicants to check a box revealing their criminal history. Employers must refrain from factoring this information into their hiring decisions, at least at first.
Balancing Worker and Employer Rights
“Ban the Box” types of initiatives offer job applicants a fair shake at a brighter future by taking the conviction history query from the application and delaying inquiry until later on in the process.
Momentum has grown quickly for this policy, with six more states adopting a Ban the Box rule in 2015. A total of 19 states now enforce this policy. The current list of states that “ban the box” during hiring as of this writing are as follows:
California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia. Seven states have taken away conviction history queries on private employer applications, indicating further evolution of the Ban the Box policy.
On a federal level, the EEOC (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) endorsed removing the question about the convictions as a best practice for 2012, saying that civil rights laws apply. The “My Brother’s Keeper” Task Force of the Obama Administration also endorsed this movement when plugging hiring practices that encouraged employers to judge candidates on their individual merits and give them a fair chance.
“Ban the Box” legislation could affect employer hiring processes and results in the following ways:
Employers Have a Unique Opportunity to Assist the Community
Policies promoting a fair chance can benefit communities profoundly. In some cases, those who made mistakes in the past have reformed and are just looking for an opportunity to prove themselves.
A Reward of Quality, Loyal Workers
Many employers are seeing the value in hiring someone who is truly looking to make a fresh start. A job can make all the difference in someone’s life; giving someone with a past a chance can result in a loyal, hardworking employee.
While Ban the Box has been banned in some states, vetting for viability is allowed later in the hiring process. Using a professional employment background screening service for criminal checks can help take the guesswork out of proper job applicant screening so that businesses stay in compliance with current laws.
Disclaimer Statement: All information presented is never intended as legal advice and is for information purposes only.