“Ban the Box” Laws Will Remove “Convicted of Felony” Question From Job Applications
A growing number of states now prohibit public agencies – and in some cases private employers – from asking about a job applicant’s criminal history until they reach the interview stage or get a conditional job offer.
Essentially that means removing the check-box questions commonly found on applications that ask, “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?”
Obstacles such as these that make it more difficult for ex-offenders to obtain jobs, housing and even basic documents like drivers’ licenses only serve to drive them back to jail.
These “ban the box” laws are intended to allow ex-offenders to prove they are qualified for the job before criminal history issues enter into the hiring decision.
Minneapolis-based Target Corporation, one of the nation’s largest employer, has announced it will remove questions about criminal history from its job applications throughout the country.
California’s “Ban The Box” Laws Take Effect on July 1, 2014
This comes on the heels of a similar development in California, where Gov. Jerry Brown signed a “ban-the-box bill” that applies to government employers. Once the law takes effect on July 1, 2014, employers will have to determine a job applicant’s minimum qualifications before they ask about a job candidate’s criminal past. Applications and initial interviews for jobs, such as police officers, that by law require a conviction background check, are exempt.
Last year the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission expanded and updated a 25-year-old ruling barring employers from automatically denying people jobs because of arrest or conviction records.
In the guidance the E.E.O.C. gave it was made clear that an arrest alone is not proof of illegal conduct or grounds for exclusion from employment. It also outlined that employers need to take into account the seriousness of the offense, as well as the time that has lapsed since the crime was committed and the relevance of the crime to the specific job sought.
Peter K. Levine
A Professional Law Corporation