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ban the box

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

The University of California (UC) has adopted a Ban the Box policy where job applicants will no longer be asked to check a box on initial employment applications to indicate whether they have been convicted of a crime in order to remove barriers to opportunity and avoid discouraging qualified ex-offenders from applying to work at the universities, according to a news report on the UC website.

Under the UC Ban the Box policy – which could begin as early as October 2017 – information about prior convictions will be requested only after job applicants have advanced to the final stage in the hiring process based on their qualifications, talents, and skills. If a job applicant has a prior conviction, human resources will assess the type of conviction, when it occurred, and its relevance to the position.

“This change to UC’s hiring process creates more opportunity for more qualified and capable people. Many have earned UC degrees after their legal difficulties and they should be able to continue to build a successful, stable future for themselves,” Dwaine B. Duckett, UC’s vice president of systemwide human resources, stated in the news report about the UC adopting a Ban the Box policy for job applicants.

The change to a Ban the Box policy for UC grew out of a discussion initiated by the systemwide Underground Scholars Initiative, which started as a UC Berkeley advocacy group supporting formerly incarcerated Berkeley students. The Underground Scholars played a key role in a similar policy change at UC Berkeley last year, as part of a fast growing nationwide movement known as Ban the Box.

The UC system – which includes UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC Merced, UC Riverside, UC San Diego, UC San Francisco, UC Santa Barbara, and UC Santa Cruz – conducts background checks on all job finalists. Employment offers are made after a qualified person successfully passes an overall background check for the position. The complete news report on Ban the Box is available here.

Currently, 28 states and over 150 cities and counties have Ban the Box laws, according to the National Employment Law Project (NELP). A study by NELP released in 2011 called ‘65 Million Need Not Apply’  estimated that nearly 65 million people in the United States – more than one in four U.S. adults – had a criminal record. NELP has since revised that number up to approximately 70 million people.


Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a global background check provider and a strategic choice for employers who want accuracy and compliance in their screening programs – supports sensible Ban the Box legislation. ESR offers employers a Ban the Box Information Page that contains news and legal updates about statescities and counties, and resources available at

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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