This article is part of a larger series on Hiring.
Ban the box laws prohibit employers from asking about a candidate’s criminal history on a job application. The “box” referred to is literally a box on job applications that asks if a candidate has ever been convicted of a crime.
The idea behind banning the box is to give every job applicant a fair shot at getting a job, based on their qualifications for the role. In that endeavor, many states and cities have enacted ban the box laws. Our guide will make sure your business stays compliant with employment laws in your area.
Where the Box Is Banned
Although there is currently no federal law banning the box, many states, cities, and municipalities do have laws in place. Hawaii was the first to pass a ban the box law in 1998. Since then, dozens more have followed suit.
To help your small business comply with employment laws, here is a breakdown of ban the box laws across the US that are applicable to private employers. If your state or city isn’t listed, there is no law in your area at the time of writing.
Please note that all these laws ban asking for criminal history on applications; we just didn’t include that if the law places additional restrictions on employers. Additionally, most of the laws above have exceptions. In many cases, if a clean background is integral to the job, you may be able to ask applicants if they’ve been convicted of a crime. For example, if you’re hiring a delivery driver, you can ask if they’ve ever been arrested and convicted of DUI. To make sure you’re following your state and local ban the box laws, we recommend you speak with an employment attorney.
Did You Know?:
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, one-third of working-age adults in the US have a criminal record. Many criminal convictions occur when people are younger and may have made a dumb mistake. The idea that this shouldn’t prevent otherwise qualified candidates from getting a good job is exactly the issue ban the box laws attempt to correct.
Practical Impact of Ban the Box Laws
There are many employment laws you need to follow through the hiring and employment process. If you’re a new employer or hiring your first employee in an area with a ban the box law, you or your HR team need to prepare. Threading the needle on complying with ban the box and avoiding a negligent hiring claim is a difficult task.
Ban the box laws have been around a long time with new and updated versions popping up frequently. These constant changes require diligence from your small business to make sure you’re complying with your local laws and avoiding penalties.