“Ban the Box” laws continue to crop up across the country. “Ban the Box” laws prohibit employers from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history prior to the first or second interview or until an offer is made. While “Ban the Box” laws do not prevent employers from considering and even rejecting applicants at later stages of the hiring process based on criminal history, they do prohibit the rejection of applicants at the outset.
The justification cited for these laws is that postponing the question gives the prospective employee an opportunity to present themselves to the employer in personal interviews, demonstrating the person they have become and explaining the circumstances of the crime.
At last count, more than 60 cities and counties and 12 states, plus the District of Columbia, have passed “Ban the Box” legislation for government and public employers. Four states, including Minnesota, Massachusetts, Hawaii, and Rhode Island, have extended the prohibition to private employers.
All employers should review their employment applications and state and local law to determine whether they are in compliance with these obligations.