Ban the Box: Laws Handcuff Employers

Policies prohibit businesses from inquiring about criminal record during initial applicant stages

All across America, more and more cities and states have begun a legislative push toward removing the question, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” from job applications. According to an article on, many of these potential laws will forbid employers from even asking individuals about previous criminal convictions until a conditional offer of employment has been made. The website calls this growing legislative push as the “Ban the Box” movement.

According to, nationwide over 100 cities and counties have adopted the “ban the box” type laws forcing employers to consider a job candidate’s qualifications first before looking into the applicants criminal record. These pro-applicant initiatives remove the conviction history question on the job application thereby delaying the background check investigation until later in the hiring process.

In 2012, the federal (EEOC) Equal Employment Opportunity Commission endorsed “Ban the Box” initiatives by stating: Some states require employers to wait until late in the selection process to ask about convictions.

The policy rationale is that an employer is more likely to objectively assess the relevance of an applicant’s conviction if it becomes known when the employer is already knowledgeable about the applicant’s qualifications and experience. As a best practice, and consistent with applicable laws, the Commission recommends that employers not ask about convictions on job applications and that, if and when they make such inquiries, the inquiries be limited to convictions for which exclusion would be job related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity.

There are currently a total of 19 states that have implemented these policies that handcuff employers by removing the conviction record question on job applications for private employers.

The states are listed in alphabetical order:
California (2010), Colorado (2012), Connecticut (2010), Delaware (2014), Georgia (2015), Hawaii (1998), Illinois (2014, 2013), Maryland (2013), Massachusetts (2010), Minnesota (2013, 2009), Nebraska (2014), New Jersey (2014), New Mexico (2010), New York (2015), Ohio (2015), Oregon (2015), Rhode Island (2013), Vermont (2015), and Virginia (2015). Seven states—Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon and Rhode are considering changes to their “Ban the Box” regulations.

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In this constantly changing business world, GSN helps you conduct your background investigations in compliance with current laws and regulations.

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