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‘Ban the Box’ Laws & What They Mean For You

When changes in the law and public policy intersect with HR management, the practical consequences for employers are compliance-related complexities -and the heightened chance of doing something wrong. Few other trends at the nexus of HR and public policy can prompt more head-scratching -and require closer attention- than the “Ban the Box” movement. Simply put, the “Ban the Box” movement is about eliminating the ability of employers to ask applicants about their criminal history in an initial job application. More broadly, efforts are underway to promote “fair chance” laws that restrict employers’ inquiries into the criminal histories of applicants.

In the United States, 70 millions adults – more people than every man, woman, and child in France- have an arrest or conviction on their record. This reality, coupled with greater scrutiny of the criminal justice system, has invigorated the campaign for “Ban the Box.” Advocates for “Ban the Box”-style reforms frame their arguments in terms of fairness, while opponents, particularly those in the business community, lament how the laws add to an already frustrating screening compliance checklist.

Like so many legal and regulatory issues, precisely how “Ban the Box” manifests itself varies from place to place. For example, an employer in Los Angeles must be clear and up-front about the fact that they consider an applicant’s criminal record, whereas employers in New York City must initially refrain from mentioning whether a criminal record search is part of the hiring process. Given that over 150 municipalities and 18 states have some version of Ban the Box, understanding what those laws and regulations mean for you is no simple task.

As more and more companies and organizations turn to pre-employment screening providers, it is essential for them to work with those who understand the complex and ever-evolving compliance landscape. In the case of EagleScreen, our top-notch compliance experts keep appraised of “Ban the Box” and other screening-related compliance questions. Moreover, our team educates clients about these issues to allow for greater end-to-end compliance in the hiring process.

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