Colorado Governor Signs Ban the Box Bill to Limit Inquiries about Criminal History of Job Applicants

Ban the Box

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On May 28, 2019, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed a “Ban the Box” bill into law – House Bill (HB) 19-1025 – that will place limits on the inquiries that employers in the state can make about the criminal history of job applicants, according to the Governor’s website. On May 29, 2012, former Governor John Hickenlooper had signed HB 1263 to Ban the Box for Colorado state agencies.

HB 19-1025 was sponsored by State Representative Jovan Melton (D-District 41), State Representative Leslie Herod (D-District 8), State Senator Mike Foote (D-District 17), and State Senator Robert Rodriguez (D-District 32). Effective September 1, 2019, for employers with 11 or more employees, and effective September 1, 2021, for all employers, HB 19-1025 will prohibit these employers from:

  • Advertising that a person with a criminal history may not apply for a position;
  • Placing a statement in an employment application that a person with a criminal history may not apply for a position; or
  • Inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history on an initial application.

Titled “Limits On Job Applicant Criminal History Inquiries,” the bill concerns the timing of an inquiry into a job applicant’s criminal history and making an appropriation. HB 19-1025 will still allow employers in Colorado to obtain a job applicant’s publicly available criminal background report at any time. An employer is exempt from the restrictions on advertising and initial employment applications when:

  • The law prohibits a person who has a particular criminal history from being employed in a particular job;
  • The employer is participating in a program to encourage employment of people with criminal histories; or
  • The employer is required by law to conduct a criminal history record check for the particular position.

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment is charged with enforcing the requirements of the bill and may issue warnings and orders of compliance for violations and, for second or subsequent violations, impose civil penalties. A violation of the restrictions does not create a private cause of action, and the bill does not create a protected class under employment anti-discrimination laws.

“Ban the Box” is a growing nationwide movement that seeks to advance job opportunities for people with prior criminal convictions by eliminating any inquiry into the criminal history of candidates on job applications, specifically the checkbox that requires candidates to disclose their criminal history. As of June 2019, more than 150 cities and counties, as well as 34 states, have passed Ban the Box laws.

States with Ban the Box laws include Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

In addition, thirteen states – California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington – as well as the District of Columbia (D.C.) have passed Ban the Box laws for private employers. More ESR News blogs about the Ban the Box movement are available at www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/tag/ban-the-box/.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) also offers a complimentary white paper entitled “Ban the Box Now More than the Exception for Employers when Screening” along with the “ESR Ban the Box Resource Guide for States, Counties & Cities” to help both public and private employers understand their responsibilities if they live in one of the many areas where Ban the Box laws have taken effect.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global background check provider – also offers employers a Ban the Box Resource Page the contains complimentary white papers, infographics, and an interactive map updated with the latest Ban the Box laws. The ESR Ban the Box Resource Page is available at 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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