Maryland Becomes Latest State to Ban the Box Asking Questions about Criminal History from Job Applications

With the signing Senate Bill 4 (SB 4) by Governor Martin O’Malley, Maryland became the ninth U.S. state to “Ban the Box” and remove questions about criminal history from state job applications while also postponing questions about criminal records of applicants until later in the hiring process.  SB 4 removes the criminal history question from state applications and defers the background check to later in the hiring process. To read SB 4, visit http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2013RS/bills/sb/sb0004E.pdf.

The move by Maryland is the latest sign that the nationwide “Ban the Box” movement to reduce unfair barriers to employment for people with criminal records is gaining momentum. According to a report updated in April 2013 from the National Employment Law Project (NELP), ‘Ban the Box: Major U.S. Cities and Counties Adopt Fair Hiring Policies to Remove Unfair Barriers to Employment of People With Criminal Records,’ no less than 50 cities and counties that have adopted these fair hiring reforms.

The list of cities that have already banned the box include: Atlantic City, NJ; Atlanta, GA; Austin, TX; Baltimore, MD; Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; Cincinnati, OH; Cleveland, OH; Detroit, MI; Jacksonville, FL; Kansas City, MO; Memphis, TN; Minneapolis, MN; New York, NY; Newark, NJ; Oakland, CA; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; San Francisco, CA; Seattle, WA; St. Paul, MN; Tampa, FL; and Washington, DC. The report from NELP is available at http://nelp.3cdn.net/495bf1d813cadb030d_qxm6b9zbt.pdf.

Maryland joins eight other states in embracing the “Ban the Box” policy: Colorado, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Minnesota, and Hawaii. Active state campaigns are underway in Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Rhode Island. A press release about the new “Ban the Box” Maryland law from NELP – an organization that advocates on issues affecting low-wage and unemployed workers – is available at http://nelp.3cdn.net/d6c9598e5fe503ee88_s5m6b8hpt.pdf.

A March 2011 NELP study – ‘65 Million “Need Not Apply” – The Case for Reforming Criminal Background Checks for Employment’ – found more than one in four adults in the United States were estimated to have criminal records. Since employers use criminal background checks to screen applicants, criminal records may cause applicants to be denied jobs even for arrests or minor convictions that occurred in the distant past. The NELP study is available at http://nelp.3cdn.net/e9231d3aee1d058c9e_55im6wopc.pdf.

A New York Times blog from May 2013, ‘An Unfair Barrier to Employment,’ stated that the problem “has become so acute that a growing number of states and municipalities have explicitly prohibited public agencies — and in some cases, private businesses — from asking about an applicant’s criminal history until the applicant reaches the interview stage or receives a conditional job offer.” The NY Times blog is available at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/06/opinion/job-fairness-for-ex-offenders.html.

On April 25, 2012, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – the agency that enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination – voted to approve updated Enforcement Guidance on the Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The updated EEOC Guidance, which builds on longstanding court decisions and Guidance documents, is available at http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/guidance/arrest_conviction.cfm.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – ‘The Background Check Authority®’ – is a nationwide background screening provider accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®). For more information about background check solutions from ESR, please visit http://www.esrcheck.com or call Toll Free 888.999.4474. To read more ESR News blogs about the “Ban the Box” movement, visit http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/tag/ban-the-box/.

Sources:

http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2013RS/bills/sb/sb0004E.pdf

http://nelp.3cdn.net/495bf1d813cadb030d_qxm6b9zbt.pdf

http://nelp.3cdn.net/d6c9598e5fe503ee88_s5m6b8hpt.pdf

http://nelp.3cdn.net/e9231d3aee1d058c9e_55im6wopc.pdf

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/06/opinion/job-fairness-for-ex-offenders.html

http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/guidance/arrest_conviction.cfm

About Employment Screening Resources® (ESR):

Founded by safe hiring expert Attorney Les Rosen in 1997, Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – ‘The Background Check Authority®’– provides accurate and actionable information that empowers employers to make informed hiring decisions for the benefit of their organizations, employees, and the public. CEO Rosen literally wrote the book on background checks with “The Safe Hiring Manual” and ESR is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), a distinction held by a small percent of screening firms. Employers choosing ESR know they have selected an agency meeting the highest industry standards. To learn more about ESR, visit http://www.esrcheck.com or call toll free 888.999.4474.

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The Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) News blog – ESR News – provides employment screening information for employers, recruiters, and jobseekers on a variety of topics including credit reports, criminal records, data privacy, discrimination, E-Verify, jobs reports, legal updates, negligent hiring, workplace violence, and use of search engines and social network sites for background checks. For more information about ESR News or to send comments or questions, please email ESR News Editor Thomas Ahearn at tahearn@esrcheck.com. To subscribe to the ESR News Blog Feed, visit http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/feed/. To subscribe to the complimentary ESRcheck Report monthly newsletter, please visit http://www.esrcheck.com/Newsletter/.

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