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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Ban the box update


NOTE: This post was originally published in August 2016 and has been updated with more recent data.

The Ban the Box movement was initially reviewed in this blog in the 2013 post, Should the box be banned? As the movement has continued to grow this blog has updated the progress. The attention drawn to employment applications has now carried over to college admission applications as well.

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 January 2018, that list included over 150 cities and counties, and 30 States (Ten of which have laws that include private employers)

CURRENT STATE LIST
Arizona             Louisiana               Ohio
California*       Maryland                Oklahoma
Colorado          Massachusetts*    Oregon*
Connecticut*   Minnesota*           Pennsylvania
Delaware          Missouri                 Rhode Island*
Georgia             Nebraska              Tennessee
Hawaii*             Nevada                  Utah
Illinois*             New Jersey*         Vermont*
Indiana              New Mexico          Virginia
Kentucky           New York               Wisconsin
*States with laws that also cover private employers

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.

Colleges Ban the Box

In 2016, the U.S. Department of Education requested that colleges and universities voluntarily remove criminal history questions from applications. Throughout the U.S. some colleges and universities have taken the request into consideration and removed the questions. States have been slow to act.

In 2017, Louisiana became the first state to enact a ban the box law for state institutions. Maryland passed a law in 2017, but the Governor vetoed it. In January 2018, the Maryland legislature overrode the Governor’s veto, reinstating the law. 

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See the blog archive for other posts relating to Ban the Box:
Should the box be banned? February 2013

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