Columbia SC Passes Ban the Box Law and Prohibits Salary History Questions on Initial Job Applications

Ban the Box

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On August 6, 2019, Columbia, South Carolina City Council unanimously passed a law that will “Ban the Box” asking about criminal history and prohibit salary history questions on initial job applications, and will encourage vendors doing business with the City to do the same, according to a report from the Free Times.

The Free Times reports that the City of Columbia has practiced “Ban the Box” in its internal hiring practices for about three years and the new measure formally makes it city law while also ensuring that the city will not ask about the salary history of applicants when considering them for a job.

“The theory is that, if an employer sees on an application that a person has a criminal background, they could develop an opinion about that person before ever taking a closer look into their qualifications and abilities. Banning the box could help eliminate that initial barrier,” the Free Times reports.

“The ‘Ban the Box’ will not prevent the city from doing background checks. But it will keep a person who has had a conviction in the past from being automatically excluded from consideration, and gets them into the application pool,” At-large City Councilman Howard Duvall told the Free Times.

“Once they are in the application pool, and maybe rise to the top of that pool, then if it is a sensitive position we are authorized to do a background check to make sure that nothing in the past would prevent them from performing the job for which they have applied,” Duvall told the Free Times.

As for the salary history ban, the Free Times reports “the city cited the pay gap between men and women as motivation.” Women on average earn 27 percent less than men for full-time work in South Carolina, according to the Columbia-based nonprofit Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network.

Nationwide, 35 states and over 150 cities and counties have adopted “Ban the Box” so that employers consider a job candidate’s qualifications first without the stigma of a conviction or arrest record, according to a Fair Chance hiring guide from the National Employment Law Project (NELP).

“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.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) offers a complimentary white paper entitled “Ban the Box Now More than the Exception for Employers when Screening” and the “ESR Ban the Box Resource Guide for States, Counties & Cities” to help employers understand their responsibilities with Ban the Box laws.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global background check firm – offers employers a Ban the Box Resource Page the contains complimentary white papers, infographics, and an interactive map updated with Ban the Box laws 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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