Ban the Box: Protecting Employer Rights While Improving Opportunities for Ex-offender Job Seekers

Source: C. W. Von Bergen and Martin S. Bressler, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 42 no. 1, Summer 2016
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A number of state and local jurisdictions, and more recently federal officials, have initiated statutes aimed at minimizing the obstacles encountered by ex-offenders in securing employment. Such policies, often referred to as “Ban the Box” legislation, attempt to ameliorate the deleterious effect that criminal history screening often has on such individuals’ ability to secure employment. The “box” in Ban the Box refers to the question on many employment applications asking if the job applicant has a criminal conviction. Such ordinances are focused at the point of the application process, only allowing potential employers to query individuals seeking employment about their convictions when they obtain an offer of conditional employment or when they reach the ranks of final consideration. Even then, it is a typical requirement that potential employers link necessity of a criminal screening with the nature of the job. This article discusses Ban the Box, its history, the risks these laws pose to employers, and strategies for firm compliance.