Ban-the-Box Movement Spreading Nationally

If you haven’t been paying attention lately, you have probably missed it, but the ban-the-box movement is spreading nationally with bipartisan support.  The recent spread of the ban- the-box laws is changing the way that employers screen their applicants.  In 2016, 7 states and 28 localities passed ban-the-box measures!  Ban-the-Box was started as a movement by civil rights activists, with the goal of persuading employers to remove the check box in job applications that asks if applicants have a criminal record.  The purpose of this is to provide ex-offenders a fair chance to display their qualifications in the hiring process before asked about their criminal record.  In most cases, employers are not able to ask about the criminal history until a conditional job offer has been made.  With an estimated 1 in 3 adults with a criminal record, the ban-the-box movement seeks to provide them with a more fair chance in employment.

Currently, there are 25 states nationally (with Kentucky being the latest) that currently have some form of ban-the-box measures(source).  Additionally over 150 cities and counties have adopted these practices as well.  During Obama’s presidency, he endorsed ban-the-box by directing federal agencies to delay inquiring about a criminal history until later in the hiring process. 

While ban-the-box ordinances continue to be passed, they also are getting stronger.  The Los Angeles Fair Chance Initiative for Hiring, Ordinance No. 184652 will be one of the most restrictive in the nation for private employers.  This ordinance applies to private employers who employ 10 or more workers in Los Angeles.  It requires that employers remove all questions on applications which seek information on an applicant’s criminal record.  Additionally, an employer is not allowed to seek any information about the criminal record until after a conditional offer of employment is made.  Once the conditional offer is made, the employer is permitted to inquire about the criminal record, but the conditional offer may not be rescinded until after a written assessment is completed, which documents how the criminal history factors into the prospective job duties. 

 For further information or implementation support, please contact one of our experienced employment law attorneys at myHRcounsel.  As always, we will continue to follow and update our clients on all of the new HR and employment laws, and the latest ban-the-box ordinances.