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Ban the Box Blogs

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

The Ban the Box Movement – named for the box on job applications that applicants check if they have criminal records – has arrived in San Francisco, California as the Fair Chance Ordinance (FCO) takes effect Wednesday, August 13, 2014. This Ban the Box Ordinance requires San Francisco City or County employers with 20 or more employees to follow strict rules about inquiring into and using the criminal records of job applicants and employees.

The Ban the Box Ordinance amends Article 49 of the San Francisco Police Code that outlines procedures for considering arrests, convictions, and related information in making employment decisions. The Ordinance is also very specific as to what employers must do to stay in compliance, including post a Notice To Job Applicants and Employees informing applicants and employees of their rights under the Ordinance in a conspicuous location at every workplace.

San Francisco now joins nearly 70 other cities and counties in the U.S. that have adopted similar Ban the Box legislation, according to a Resource Guide from the National Employment Law Project (NELP). The state of California also passed Ban the Box legislation in 2013 as Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 218 that removes questions about convictions from state agency, city, county, and special district job applications and postpones such inquiries until later in the hiring process.

“The Ban the Box movement is quickly heading towards becoming a national standard,” says Attorney Lester Rosen, Founder and CEO of San Francisco-area background check firm Employment Screening Resources® (ESR). Rosen, author of “The Safe Hiring Manual”, selected the Ban the Box movement as the number one trend for the annual ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends for 2014 that features a list of emerging and influential trends in the background screening industry.

Rosen has also written an article, ‘San Francisco Ban the Box Ordinance Takes Effect August 13’, detailing the requirements City and County of San Francisco employers must follow to remain in compliance. Rosen writes about one specific aspect of the Ban the Box Ordinance – the “seven year” rule – that could be somewhat troubling for City and County of San Francisco employers:

One aspect of the San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance that bears watching is the impact of the new San Francisco “seven year” rule on the use of criminal records and hiring.  Under current California law, there is also a seven year limitation but it starts to run from the time person has been out of custody.  Under the San Francisco rule, an applicant who was sentenced for a sexual assault or a violent felony seven years and one day before applying for a job would be protected even if the person just got out of prison. This could prove to be of grave concern to organizations that serve “vulnerable populations” such as children, the elderly, and people with special needs.

The article by Attorney Lester Rosen is available at For more information about Employment Screening Resources® (ESR), a nationwide background check firm accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners® (NAPBS), please visit, call Toll Free 888-999-4474, or email [email protected].

More Ban the Box Information from ESR

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – ‘The Background Check Authority®’ – has recommended its clients consider utilizing a Ban the Box approach in hiring. ESR is offering employers nationwide a Ban the Box Information Page that contains links to the latest news about the Ban the Box movement available at