Monday, August 22, 2016

Ban the box update

We reviewed the Ban the Box movement in this blog in 2013 (Should the box be banned? ) as the movement was really started to grow. The purpose is to prevent hiring discrimination but now a recent study is claiming that banning the box may be causing racial discrimination.

What is “Ban the Box”?
For the last several years there has been a movement to remove from employment applications the “box” that asks the question, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime” or any inquiry about criminal history. What has become known as  “ban the box”, the campaign feels that one’s criminal history should not be a consideration of employment at the time an application is submitted, rather, at a later time during the interview process. It is felt that asking this question on the application reduces the chances of those with criminal records to be employed. Employers should meet applicants first, get to know them, give a chance to explain themselves and then get to the criminal history. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has updated its policies, issuing guidelines in 2012 suggesting that employers wait until after a personal interview before making inquiries about criminal history.

In January 2014, there were fifty-six cities that had “banned the box”. As of June 2016, that list included over 100 cities and counties, and twenty-four States (Nine of which have laws that include public employees)

Current State List (As compiled by the National Employment Law Project)

California                    Maryland                  Ohio
Colorado                     Massachusetts*     Oklahoma
Connecticut *            Minnesota*              Oregon*
Delaware                    Missouri                   Rhode Island*
Georgia                      Nebraska                 Tennessee
Hawaii*                      New Jersey*            Vermont*
Illinois*                      New Mexico             Virginia
Louisiana                    New York                  Wisconsin

*States with laws that cover private employees

New findings
The Ban the box movement is not saying to ignore criminal history during the hiring process, however, meet the applicant, conduct a personal interview, and allow them to explain themselves. Again, to reduce the chances of discrimination based solely on criminal records.

Researchers from Princeton University and the University of Michigan have concluded that jurisdictions with Ban the Box laws have an increase in racial discrimination. Researchers conducted the study by sending out job applications to employers in New York and New Jersey before and after those jurisdictions enacted laws. The applications were identical except for one applicant being black and the other white. They concluded that the Ban the Box laws did make it easier for those with criminal records to be hired, but the jobs were more often given to the white applicants.

A spokesperson for the National Employment Law Project hasn’t accepted the study’s conclusion as yet, saying that the study was conducted to soon after laws were passed.

Maryland Ban the Box
            Maryland’s law took effect October 1, 2013, and applies only to State of Maryland employment applications. State government cannot ask about criminal record or criminal history of an applicant until the applicant has been provided an opportunity for an interview. Exempt from the law are positions in the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. Baltimore passed a similar law in 2014, restricting employers with 10 or more workers from asking a candidate about criminal records until after a conditional employment offer is made.

See our blog archive for other posts relating to Ban the Box:

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