Over the past several years, more and more cities, counties and states are joining the Ban-the-Box movement. “Ban the Box” refers to an initiative by civil rights advocates that encourages employers to remove the checkbox on their job applications that asks a candidate if they have a criminal record. Its mission is to give more people fair access to employment.
According to the National Employment Law Project (NELP), a worker advocacy organization, the movement gained a lot of traction between 2013 and 2014, when the number of jurisdictions adopting Ban-the-Box policies doubled. Today, about one-third of the U.S. population lives where there is a ban-the-box or fair chance policy.
When CT first adopted a Ban-the-Box policy in 2010, it applied to just public employers, which is typically the case when a jurisdiction puts a policy into effect. However, Ban-the-Box laws which apply to all industries are happening more.
In June of this year, CT became another state to adopt statewide legislation that prohibits employers from asking about a job applicant’s criminal history on their application (there are some exclusions). “An Act Concerning Fair Chance Employment” was signed by CT Governor Dannel Malloy on June 1 and CT employers have until January 1, 2017 to begin compliance with the new law.
Jackson Lewis, a leading law firm for workplace litigation, offers the following tips for employers as they prepare for CT Ban-the-Box to go into effect:
- Update job application materials by January 1, 2017. Remove all inquiries regarding an applicant’s prior arrests or criminal charges or convictions.
- Language on job advertisements regarding criminal records, etc. should also be reviewed and updated accordingly.
- Ensure that key hiring staff is fully educated on the new Ban-the-Box statute.
- Check local city ordinances. Jackson Lewis shares that some municipalities like Hartford and New Haven prohibit employers who are vendors to the cities from conducting criminal background checks prior to making conditional offers of employment. There are some other limitations as well.
- For employers operating in multiple states, look for similar provisions in other jurisdictions, as more states and local jurisdictions have various policies regarding the timing of criminal background checks.
- When background checks are conducted, they must be conducted in a non-discriminatory fashion. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will be watching procedures closely.
If you’re an employer with questions about CT Ban-the-Box, feel free to contact A.R. Mazzotta. If we can’t answer your question, we’ll point you in the right direction! You can also review the additional resources below.