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Ban the Box Blogs

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

Washington D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray has signed Ban the Box legislation – The Fair Criminal Record Screening Act of 2014 – that will prevent employers more than 10 employees working in District of Columbia (D.C.) from asking job candidates about their criminal history on initial job applications. The Act, which takes effect following a mandated 30-day period of U.S. Congressional review and publication in the D.C. Register, is available here: The Fair Criminal Record Screening Act of 2014.

Sponsored by D.C. Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), The Fair Criminal Record Screening Act of 2014 prohibits D.C. employers from making inquiries into certain arrests, accusations, and convictions. Under the Act, employers may not make any inquiry about or require an applicant to disclose or reveal:

  • Any arrest or criminal accusation made against the applicant, which is not then pending against the applicant and which did not result in a conviction.
  • Any criminal conviction until after making a conditional offer of employment.

Even following the extension of a conditional offer of employment, the D.C. Ban the Box Act maintains that “an employer may only withdraw the conditional offer to an applicant or take an adverse action against an applicant for a legitimate business reason.” However, the prohibitions of the Ban the Box Act shall not apply under the following circumstances:

  • Where any federal or District law or regulation requires the consideration of an applicant’s criminal history for the purposes of employment.
  • To any positions designated by the employer as part of a federal or District government program or obligation that is designed to encourage the employment of those with criminal histories.
  • To any employer that provides programs, services, or direct care to minors or vulnerable adults.

As for penalties under the D.C. Ban the Box Act, if the Commission on Human Rights (OHA) finds that a violation of this part has occurred, the Commission shall impose the following penalties, of which half shall be awarded to the person making the complaint:

  • A fine of up to $1,000 for employers that employ 11 to 30 employees.
  • A fine of up to $2,500 for employers that employ 31 to 99 employees.
  • A fine of up to a $5,000 for employers that employ 100 or more employees.

Washington D.C. joins a growing list of states and cities in America that have passed Ban the Box legislation. According to research by the National Employment Law Project (NELP), nearly 70 U.S. cities and counties as well as 13 states have joined the Ban the Box movement spreading rapidly across the United States. More information about Ban the Box is available at


Additional Research:


Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – ‘The Background Check Authority®’ – is offering employers a Ban the Box Information Page that contains links to the latest news and information about the Ban the Box movement. The page is available at