Fair Chance Act Will Ban the Box in the U.S. Federal Government

Ban the Box

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On December 20, 2019, United States President Donald J. Trump signed into law S. 1790, the “National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020” that included a “Ban the Box” bill called The Fair Chance Act that will take effect two years after the date of enactment to give ex-offenders a better chance to find work in the U.S. federal government. The signing of S. 1790 was confirmed in a statement on the White House website.

On December 17, 2019, the Fair Chance Act passed in the U.S. Senate before heading to the President’s desk. On December 11, 2019, the Fair Chance Act passed in the U.S. House of Representatives before heading to the Senate. The Fair Chance Act will Ban the Box and prohibit the federal government and federal contractors from asking about the criminal history of job applicants early on in the hiring process. The Act will:

  • Prevent the federal government – including the executive, legislative, and judicial branches – from requesting criminal history information from applicants until they reach the conditional offer stage.
  • Prohibit federal contractors from requesting criminal history information from candidates for positions within the scope of federal contracts until the conditional offer stage.
  • Include important exceptions for positions related to law enforcement and national security duties, positions requiring access to classified information, and positions for which access to criminal history information before the conditional offer stage is required by law.
  • Require the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in coordination with the U.S. Census Bureau, to issue a report on the employment statistics of formerly incarcerated individuals.

S. 1790 also authorizes fiscal year 2020 appropriations for Department of Defense (DOD) national security programs, provides equipment modernization for the U.S. military branches, a pay raise for U.S. service members, 12 weeks of paid parental leave to all U.S. Federal civilian employees, and authorizes the creation of the United States Space Force as an Armed Force within the Department of the Air Force.

Ban the Box is a fast growing nationwide movement that seeks to advance opportunities for job applicants with criminal records by eliminating any inquiry into the criminal history on initial job applications. As of December 2019, 35 states and more than 150 cities and counties have adopted Ban the Box laws, according to statistics from the National Employment Law Project (NELP).

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global background check provider – offers two white papers titled “Ban the Box Now More the Rule than Exception for Employers when Screening” and “Ten Critical Steps for Ex-Offenders to Get Back into the Workforce” along with 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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