News & Insights

The Rise Of Ban The Box Laws

The National Employment Law Project (“NELP”) partnered with several other organizations to spearhead a grassroots movement to encourage employers to change their policies to consider the qualification of job applicants without consideration of their criminal history.  Prior to the efforts of NELP, it was commonplace for an employer to ask a job applicant whether the applicant has been convicted of a crime.

NELP’s efforts have paid off.  Today, twenty-five states have state-wide ban-the-box or fair-chance laws.  These states include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.  Additionally, 150 cities and counties have adopted similar policies.

Several jurisdictions have also adopted policies akin to the EEOC’s 2012 Guidance on the use of arrest and conviction records in the hiring process.  For example, some jurisdictions prohibit employers from asking about criminal arrests and convictions until after a conditional offer of employment has been extended and, when that time comes, require the employer to consider external factors including the job-relatedness of the conviction, extenuating circumstances and rehabilitative issues.

With ban-the-box and fair-chance laws on the rise, employers should remain diligent with regard to revisiting their handbooks and other internal policies.