"Ban the Box" refers to a growing movement and set of laws intended to remove barriers for individuals with criminal conviction records from getting hired for jobs. Specifically, "the Box" is the typical question asked on applications: "Have you been convicted of a crime?" This movement seeks to eliminate this question on job applications and prevent employers from inquiring about criminal convictions until later in the job interview process or until after an offer of employment has been extended. Furthermore, if a prior conviction is discovered, the employer must individually assess each candidate and not have a blanket "no hire" policy for applicants with records.
Over 80 cities and counties in 38 states now have "Ban the Box" laws. 13 states have implemented the law, with 8 passing laws within the last couple of years. This trend is growing with many more cities and states considering similar legislation. NYC, California, New Jersey, Chicago, Massachusetts, Connecticut are just a few of the locations with these laws. The list goes on and is growing.
If you haven't heard about it, you're not alone. These new laws haven't gotten too much attention. But that will change. Lawsuits are beginning to emerge. One employer was recently fined $95,000 in NY for having a blanket policy that automatically disqualified candidates with a conviction record from getting hired. While laws in each location will vary, common themes include the following:
Implications for Employers:
It's important to note that "Ban the Box" laws do not require companies to hire applicants with criminal records. They are intended to eliminate an automatic disqualification because of a record and to push the discussion of a record off until the applicant's qualifications are determined. The goal is to give individuals with records more employment opportunities by evaluating their skills and experience first, before evaluating if the crime is related to the job.
In 2015, you will likely be hearing more about these laws as new lawsuits are brought forward. Additionally, the EEOC is beginning to take a tougher stand on this issue as well. We recommend getting ahead of it before it adversely impacts your business.
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