Ban the Box?

What does that mean to you?  Maybe nothing…  I understand.

The “box” in context of this phrase refers to the box on an application for employment, and specifically, the box an applicant would check (or not) next to the question, “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?”

And thus, a majority states and many local municipalities feel that removing this question from job applications helps prevent blanket discrimination against those who may have a criminal record and promotes fair hiring.   If your city or state has a “Ban the Box” law, you may and should still run background checks on prospective employees as part of your due diligence, but it must be done only after an offer of employment has been made.

In these cases, I suggest including language on your application that in the event an offer of employment is made, candidates must authorize the employer to conduct background screening prior to their start date.   It’s important not to use language such as “pass a background check” or similar because if you are to take adverse action due to the information found on the report, in most cases that information should be relevant or correlate to the duties of the job according to precedent-setting Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) court cases.

If you have questions about what kinds of flagged information would be relevant to your positions, please feel free to contact me or you can become familiar with best practices in the EEOC’s 2012 guidance on the use of arrest and conviction records in employment decisions.

Currently, over 150 cities and municipalities and 29 states have Fair Chance laws that “ban the box” and prevent private employers from asking about criminal history until later in the hiring process.  Austin, TX is one of those, BTW (though not the state of Texas).  A complete list of states and municipalities that have adopted fair hiring policies and what they are can be found here.

If you don’t have time to dig deep into this area, I’m always available to assist!  Hire Safe – Hire Smart!

Ban the Box?