Massachusetts Attorney General Cites Employers for Violating State Ban the Box Law in Hiring Practices

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On June 6, 2018, Massachusetts Attorney General (AG) Maura Healey announced her office had reached agreements with four national employers an issued warning letters to 17 other Boston area businesses found to be in violation of a “Ban the Box” provision in state law that prohibits employers from asking about criminal record information on an initial job application, according to a press release on Mass.gov.

In 2010, Massachusetts enacted a law to reform its Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) system that included a “Ban the Box” provision prohibiting most employers from asking job applicants about a criminal history on an initial employment application since applicants who revealed a criminal history by checking a box on the application were often excluded by employers in the initial hiring phase.

The Massachusetts AG’s Office reached agreements with four national employers with store locations in the state – Edible Arrangements, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, L’Occitane, and The Walking Company – requiring them to come into compliance with the “Ban the Box” law. Edible Arrangements, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, and L’Occitane also had to pay $5,000 (The Walking Company filed for bankruptcy).

The AG’s Office also sent letters to 17 local businesses warning them that they must take immediate action to comply with the Massachusetts “Ban the Box” law since they were all violating the law by asking questions on their initial job applications about criminal histories of applicants. State law prohibits most employers from asking applicants about the following at any stage of the hiring process:

  • Criminal cases that did not end in a conviction;
  • An arrest or detention that did not end in a conviction;
  • A first conviction for drunkenness, simple assault, speeding, disturbance of the peace, affray or minor traffic violations;
  • Misdemeanor convictions that are more than five years old;
  • Sealed criminal records; and
  • Juvenile records.

AG Healey said she wants to educate businesses about the law and to ensure that CORI is not used improperly to deny employment. “Jobs are the pathway to economic security and building a better life. But unfortunately, many of our residents with criminal records face barriers to securing employment. These actions are an effort to give all job applicants a fair chance,” she stated in the press release.

In 2017, the AG’s Office published “Know Your Rights – Criminal Records: A Guide to Rights to Housing and Employment”  and AG Healey successfully advocated for the elimination of a law that required the mandatory suspension of a person’s driver’s license after a drug conviction in 2015. The AG’s Office was also supportive of reforms to the CORI law in the new criminal justice reform legislation.

“Ban the Box” is a movement seeking to advance job opportunities for people with prior criminal convictions by delaying questions about criminal records of job applicants until later in the hiring process to give ex-offenders a chance to demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and abilities for the job. As of June 2018, more than 150 cities and counties as well as 32 states have passed Ban the Box legislation.

Visit the ESR Ban the Box Resource Page

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – a leading global background check provider – offers employers and HR professionals a Ban the Box Resource Page with complimentary whitepapers, infographics, and an interactive map updated with the latest Ban the Box laws for states, counties, and cities in America. To learn more about Ban the Box, please visit www.esrcheck.com/Legislative-Compliance/Ban-the-Box/.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

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