Montgomery County MD Enacts Ban the Box Law

Ban the Box Blogs

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

The Montgomery County (Maryland) Council has unanimously enacted a Ban the Box law – amended Bill 36-14 – to delay the point at which employers in the County may inquire into the criminal history of applicants for County jobs until the conclusion of the first interview. A press release about the Ban the Box law is available on the Montgomery County website at http://www6.montgomerycountymd.gov/Apps/Council/PressRelease/PR_detailsNew.asp?PrID=14203.

“To eliminate someone from consideration for a job—someone who may be an excellent candidate—before the process even begins, is unfair to the applicant and may be robbing the employer of the most qualified applicant,” Councilmember Marc Elrich, one of the Ban the Box bill’s original sponsors, stated in the press release. “This bill will not force any employer to hire someone they would not want to hire, but it does open the door for an employer to learn about someone they may not have otherwise considered.”

Bill 36-14 makes exceptions for any positions – such as childcare workers, teachers, and those working with vulnerable populations – currently required by state or federal law to have completed background checks. The Ban the Box bill would also require an employer who intends to rescind a conditional job offer based on an applicant’s arrest or conviction record to:

  • Provide the applicant or employee with a copy of any criminal record report.
  • Notify the applicant of the intention to rescind the offer and state the items that are the basis for the intention to rescind the offer.
  • Give an applicant who finds false information or mistaken identity in the report provided an opportunity to respond with evidence proving the mistake within seven days.

According to the press release, Bill 36-14 also includes a number of amendments, the majority of which were proposed by Councilmember Elrich and approved by original co-sponsor Councilmember Cherri Branson, that were accepted by the Council. These amendments include:

  • Changing the point where an inquiry is permissible to “the conclusion of a first interview.”
  • Deleting all damage awards to complainants, leaving a civil penalty of up to $1,000 for employers who violate the Ban the Box law.
  • Deleting the requirement that an employer conduct an “individualized assessment” when considering an applicant’s criminal history.
  • Adding language to the definition of “Inquiry or Inquire” to exclude from the definition follow-up questions about an applicant’s criminal history voluntarily disclosed by the applicant and questions about the applicant’s employment history shown on the applicant’s resume.
  • Changing the threshold number of employees for an employer to be covered under the Ban the Box bill from 10 to 15.
  • Adding exemptions for the County Fire and Rescue Service and an employer hiring for a position that requires a federal government security clearance.

The Ban the Box movement gets its name from the box on an employment application that applicants are asked to check if they have a criminal record. Ban the Box legislation seeks to remove one of the barriers to employment facing persons with criminal records by prohibiting inquiry by certain employers into a job applicant’s criminal history early in the hiring process.

According to research from the National Employment Law Project (NELP), approximately 70 cities and counties have enacted Ban the Box laws. In addition, 13 states – California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Rhode Island – have passed Ban the Box legislation. More Ban the Box research is available at http://www.nelp.org/page/content/banthebox/.

More Ban the Box Information from ESR

Attorney Lester Rosen, Founder and CEO of Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) and author of “The Safe Hiring Manual,” will present a complimentary webinar “Ban the Box – What Employers Need to Know” on Wednesday, November 12, 2014  from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM Pacific Time. To register, please visit http://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4488944598710491905.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) offers a Ban the Box Information web page with links to the latest news about the Ban the Box movement at http://www.esrcheck.com/Ban-the-Box/. To read more Ban the Box blogs from ESR News, visit http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/tag/ban-the-box/. To learn more about ESR, call Toll Free 888.999.4474 or visit http://www.esrcheck.com/.