2022Ban the Box

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On January 4, 2022, Harris County in Texas adopted a “Ban the Box” policy that will prohibit most county departments from asking about the criminal history of job applicants and remove the box on county employment applications that applicants must check if they have a criminal record, Houston Public Media reported.

“It will prohibit departments from considering an applicant’s record of arrest if that arrest did not result in a conviction, or if it did and it was expunged or sealed, or it’s a misdemeanor for which no jail time can be sentenced,” County Attorney Christian Menefee – who proposed the program – told Houston Public Media.

The “Ban the Box” policy will allow departments to conduct a criminal background check only after a conditional offer of employment. When a background check is performed later in the process, employers are more likely to consider the context of the applicant’s record, as well as relevant skills and experience, Menefee explained.

“The policy will prohibit blanket disqualification of applicants solely because they have a conviction,” Menefee told Houston Public Media. “Instead, what it’s going to call for is an individualized assessment of various factors, including what was the nature of the offense. What is the position that the applicant is applying for?”

The “Ban the Box” policy only applies to departments led by county appointees, not elected officials. However, elected officials are free to adopt the policy within their offices. The policy also includes exceptions for jobs in law enforcement and sensitive areas. The complete article on the Houston Public Media website is available here.

“Ban the Box” is a fast-growing nationwide movement that seeks to advance opportunities for job applicants with criminal records. As of January 2022, 37 states and more than 150 cities and counties have adopted some type of “Ban the Box” legislation, according to statistics from the National Employment Law Project (NELP).

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – a service offering of ClearStar – offers a white paper titled “Ban the Box Now More the Rule than Exception for Employers when Screening,” a “Ban the Box Resource Guide for States, Counties, and Cities,” and a Ban the Box Resource Page. To learn more, contact ESR today.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – a service offering of ClearStar – 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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