Written By Employment Screening Resources® (ESR)
“Ban the Box” laws and Second Chance Programs that help allow ex-offenders in the United States with a prior criminal record – an estimated 70 million people or nearly one in three U.S. adults – an opportunity to find work after leaving prison will continue to evolve, according to the “ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends” for 2021 compiled by leading global background check firm Employment Screening Resources® (ESR).
A guide from the National Employment Law Project (NELP) revealed 36 states and more than 150 cities and counties had passed Ban the Box laws as of January 2021. In 2020 alone, Ban the Box laws passed in Maryland, Suffolk County in New York, the City of Aiken in South Carolina, Shelby County in Tennessee, North Carolina, and Montgomery County in Maryland. In addition, North Carolina passed a law expanding expungements.
Do “Ban the Box” laws work? A study of Ban the Box laws released in March 2019 found removing the criminal history question from applications increased the hiring of ex-offenders, which reduces recidivism, the tendency to re-offend. By removing the box applicants are asked to check if they have a criminal record, these laws reduce employment barriers for ex-offenders so they can be judged on their knowledge, skills, and abilities.
Should employers consider ex-offenders? Dawn Standerwick, Vice President of Strategic Growth at ESR, helped answer that question in her article “Should Employers Consider Workers with a Criminal Record? A Look at Second Chances.” She wrote that while employers have the right and obligation to protect their assets, employees, and customers from harm, they should do so in a way that is fair and equitable to job seekers.
“While it may seem unlikely for the background screening industry to support second-chance efforts, our company and many other firms agree that individuals with a prior criminal history should not be prevented from having gainful employment. We believe in the thoughtful consideration of all aspects of a person’s background, but, that there should be a job for every person,” Standerwick explained in the article.
However, “Ban the Box” laws and Second Chance Programs aimed at giving ex-offenders a fair chance to find work and reenter the workforce often have a major deficit – employers trying to do the right thing still have substantial legal exposure in many states, according to an article written by background check expert Attorney Lester Rosen, ESR founder and chief executive officer (CEO) and author of “The Safe Hiring Manual.”
In the article he wrote titled “How a Simple Tort Reform Can Super Charge Fair Chance Hiring Laws and Help Ex-Offenders Obtain a Second Chance – A California Case Study” published on LinkedIn Pulse in February 2020, Rosen used the California Fair Chance Act (FCA) / Assembly Bill 1008 (AB 1008) as a case study to examine how employer tort immunity is the missing element in getting ex-offenders back to work.
Rosen wrote in the article about how the new “Ban the Box” legislation in California would “provide as level a playing field as possible so that a criminal record does not amount to a perpetual cyclical sentence of further unemployment and recidivism. When ex-offender job applicants are not obstructed by stigma from securing employment for which they are qualified, the applicant, the employer, and the state all stand to benefit.”
Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global background check provider that was ranked the number one screening firm by HRO Today in 2020 – offers the white papers “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. To learn more about ESR, visit www.esrcheck.com.
Since 2008, Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) has annually selected the “ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends” that feature emerging and influential trends in the background screening industry. Each of the top background check trends for 2021 will be announced via the ESR News Blog and listed on the ESR background check trends web page at www.esrcheck.com/Tools-Resources/ESR-Top-Ten-Background-Check-Trends/.
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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