Montgomery County MD Enacts Bill to Expand Scope of “Ban the Box” Law

Ban the Box

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On November 10, 2020, the Montgomery County Council in Maryland unanimously enacted Bill 35-20, Human Rights and Civil Liberties – Fair Criminal Record Screening Standards – Amendments to expand the scope of a “Ban the Box” law the County passed in 2014, according to a press release from the Montgomery County Council.

Bill 35-20 aims to help prevent workplace discrimination and promote fair screening standards by prohibiting background checks and preventing inquiries into certain types of arrests and convictions prior to the extension of a conditional offer of employment. In Montgomery County, the Ban the Box bill would:

  • Alter definitions regarding fair criminal record screening standards;
  • Prohibit certain inquiries regarding criminal records;
  • Prohibit consideration of certain arrests and convictions in employment decisions; and
  • Generally amend the law regarding criminal record screenings.

In 2014, the Council enacted a Ban the Box law which prohibited employers of 15 or more full-time employees (FTEs) in the County from conducting a criminal background check of a job applicant, or otherwise inquiring about the criminal or arrest history of an applicant, prior to the completion of a first interview.

Bill 35-20 expands the scope of the Ban the Box law by prohibiting background checks until after a conditional job offer has been extended, prevents inquiries about certain crimes altogether, and redefines “employer” to include any County employer except employers that provide services to minors or vulnerable adults.

“If a person has paid their debt to society, or if they have been arrested and found not guilty or not charged at all, we believe they should have access to the same economic opportunities as anyone else,” Councilmember Will Jawando, the lead sponsor of the bill, stated in the press release. His remarks about the vote can be viewed here.

“Ban the Box” refers to the box on job applications that applicants are asked to check if they have a criminal record. As of September 2020, 36 states and more than 150 cities and counties have adopted Ban the Box laws to reduce employment barriers for ex-offenders and have them judged on their knowledge, skills, and abilities.

Ban the Box laws and second chance programs that give ex-offenders with a prior criminal record a chance to find work are spreading rapidly in the U.S., according to the “ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends” for 2020 that was compiled by leading global background check provider Employment Screening Resources® (ESR).

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) offers a white paper on “Ten Critical Steps for Ex-Offenders to Get Back into the Workforce,” an “ESR Ban the Box Resource Guide for States, Counties & Cities,” and a Ban the Box Resource Page with an interactive map with Ban the Box laws. To learn more about ESR, visit www.esrcheck.com.

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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