Massachusetts Attorney General’s Investigation Finds Employers in Violation of State Ban the Box Law

Ban the Box

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On May 5, 2019, Massachusetts Attorney General (AG) Maura Healey announced that agreements were reached with two Massachusetts employers and warning letters were sent to 17 other businesses found to be in violation of a state “Ban the Box” law that bars employers from asking about criminal record information on initial job applications, according to a press release on Mass.gov website.

The Massachusetts “Ban the Box” law was enacted in 2010 in an effort to reform the state’s Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) system to address barriers to employment for ex-offenders. Before the passage of the “Ban the Box” law, job applicants who revealed a criminal history by checking a box on the application were often categorically excluded by employers in the initial hiring phase.

The investigation by the Massachusetts AG’s Office found 19 businesses violated state law by asking questions about the criminal histories of applicants on initial job applications, including whether the applicants had been convicted of violating the law, whether they had been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor other than a minor traffic violation, and whether they had been convicted of a felony.

The Massachusetts AG’s Office reached agreements with Brooks Brothers, a clothing designer in Massachusetts, and DesignWerkes, Inc., a product design and manufacturing company in Amesbury, Massachusetts. Both businesses paid $5,000 to the state and came into compliance with the law at all locations. The other 17 employers confirmed compliance with the law following receipt of the letters.

State law prohibits most employers from asking job applicants about: 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 three years old; sealed or expunged criminal records; and juvenile records.

In June 2018, ESR News reported that Massachusetts AG Healey announced her office had reached similar agreements with four national employers with store locations in the state – Edible Arrangements, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, L’Occitane, and The Walking Company – and issued warning letters to 17 other Boston area businesses found to be in violation of the state’s “Ban the Box” law.

“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 May 2019, more than 150 cities and counties, as well as 34 states, have passed “Ban the Box” legislation.

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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