Baltimore City Council Passes Ban the Box Bill

Written By Thomas Ahearn

Ban The BoxThe City Council of Baltimore, Maryland has passed Ban the Box legislation that will bar employers in the city with ten or more workers from asking job seekers about their criminal record history on job applications and make them wait until a conditional job offer has been extended, according to a Baltimore Sun news report. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is expected to sign the bill which will go into effect 90 days after adoption. The full story is available at http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/politics/bs-md-ci-council-20140428%2C0%2C2777891.story.

The Sun reports the legislation – 13-0301, Ban the Box – Fair Criminal Records Screening Practices – is intended to help ex-offenders find jobs. The legislation, which passed by a vote of 10 to 4, requires private employers to remove the box ex-offenders must check stating they have a criminal record from job applications. However, certain positions where a criminal history would bar candidates are exempt, the Sun reports. The full text of the bill 13-0301 is available at http://legistar.baltimorecitycouncil.com/attachments/11035.pdf.

The Ban the Box movement – named for the box job applicants are asked to check on applications if they have past convictions – is spreading in the United States. An April 2014 Resource Guide from the National Employment Law Project (NELP) shows major U.S. cities besides Baltimore that have adopted Ban the Box policies include: Boston, MA; Cincinnati, OH, Cleveland, OH; Detroit, MI; Kansas City, MO; New Orleans, New York, NY; CA; Philadelphia, PA, Pittsburgh, PA; San Francisco, CA; Seattle, WA; and Washington, DC. The NELP resource guide is available at http://www.nelp.org/page/-/SCLP/CityandCountyHiringInitiatives.pdf?nocdn=1.

A 2011 NELP report titled ‘65 Million Need Not Apply: The Case for Reforming Criminal Background Checks for Employment’ estimated that 65 million Americans – or one in four U.S. adults – have a criminal record that may show up on a routine background check report. Using updated information, NELP now estimates that 70 million Americans – still one in four U.S. adults – have a criminal record. At the same time that the numbers of workers with criminal records have risen, more employers are now using background checks for employment screening than ever before. The report from NELP is available at http://nelp.3cdn.net/e9231d3aee1d058c9e_55im6wopc.pdf.

“The Ban the Box movement is quickly heading towards becoming a national standard and is a hot issue for employers in 2014,” says Attorney Lester Rosen, Founder and CEO of Employment Screening Resources® (ESR). Rosen says the idea is that asking about criminal records upfront serves as a potential early knock-out punch for ex-offenders that may otherwise be qualified. Rosen chose Ban the Box as the number one trend for the 7th Annual ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends’ for 2014. For a full list of all of the top trends, please visit http://www.esrcheck.com/ESR-Top-Ten-Background-Check-Trends.

More Ban the Box Information from Employment Screening Resources® (ESR)

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – ‘The Background Check Authority®’ – is a nationwide background screening firm located in the San Francisco, California-area that is accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®). For more information about “Ban the Box” legislation, visit http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/tag/ban-the-box/. For more information about Employment Screening Resources® (ESR), visit http://www.esrcheck.com/, call Toll Free 888.999.4474, or email sales@esrcheck.com.