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Ban-The-Box Comes to California


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December 11, 2013 Return to News & Events

Ban-The-Box Comes to California: CriminalBackgroundRecords.com Highly Recommends A Full Review of Pre-Employment Screening Practices

California, the largest employer of State and Local government employees, has had Ban-The-Box legislation signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown. Adam Almeida, President and CEO of CriminalBackgroundRecords.com highly recommends companies large and small to evaluate pre-employment screening practices. "Laws are changing quickly and ban-the-box legislation is more widespread across the country. It is critical that companies understand where they can and cannot use Criminal Histories as part of the background screening process."

California Governor Jerry Brown has added California to the growing number of states and cities that have Ban-the-Box legislation.

As reported in the Sacramento Bee (Oct. 10, 13):

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill that bans government employers from asking job applicants about their criminal record until later in the hiring process, effectively extending the state's policy to some 6,000-plus local and regional government agencies in California. http://blogs.sacbee.com/the_state_worker/2013/10/jerry-brown-signs-bill-to-ban-felony-question-on-public-job-apps.html

Ban-the-Box removes the question of criminal record from an application. However, the question of previous criminal conviction can be asked after a conditional offer of employment has been made. Essentially, banning the box facilitates the elimination of perceived discrimination based on criminal history.

A Bloomberg.com web-article (Oct. 11, 13) states:

Prospective employers tend to reject job seekers if they check a box on a form saying they’ve been convicted of a crime, without ever giving applicants a chance to prove they might be worth considering, Rodriguez said. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-10-11/california-gives-break-to-job-seekers-with-criminal-past.html

With the inclusion of California, the Ban-the-Box movement continues to expand. New Jersey is currently looking into enacting similar legislation, but may face some challenges.

New Jersey lawmakers are considering a bill that would prohibit all employers, not just government, from asking the question on job applications. It has run into opposition from the State Chamber of Commerce, which says it could open employers to lawsuits from disgruntled applicants. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-10-11/california-gives-break-to-job-seekers-with-criminal-past.html

Primary facilitators of change in legislation have come at the state and local level. However, businesses have made changes as well. Target, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota has found motivation to change internal policies across the company, including locations not within “Ban-the-Box” jurisdictions.

Earlier this year Minnesota extended its existing law to cover private employers. Now, the Minneapolis-based Target Corporation, one of the nation’s largest employers, has announced that it will remove questions about criminal history from its job applications throughout the country. http://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/10/29/target-bans-the-box/

Adam Almeida, President and CEO of CriminalBackgroundRecords.com states: "Ban-the-box legislation is becoming relatively commonplace insomuch that employers really need to understand when criminal history use is allowed. Also, it is important to note there are many instances where the criminal history question will remain on an application, specifically positions of public safety."

A section from the State of California's press release regarding passage of "Ban-the-Box" clearly states the point at which the question can be asked:

AB 218 removes any inquiry into a conviction history on an initial job application and delays any background check until the employer has determined that the applicant’s qualifications meet the job requirements. http://www.asmdc.org/members/a07/press-releases/governor-signs-dickinson-bill-to-increase-fairness-in-government-hiring

As additional state legislative bodies take up the question of criminal history on applications, the quantitative effect of "Ban-the-Box" legislation remains to be seen. However, for some, it is already clear.

From the Pittsburg Post-Gazette (Oct. 10, 13)

"If you post a job and see an applicant pool, one of the most prudent things you can do is look at the qualifications of the entire applicant pool. Once you select people you feel are qualified, then you can ask those questions on a second round of consideration...But if you exclude them in the initial screening, it could be disadvantageous to them and the company." http://www.post-gazette.com/business/businessnews/2013/10/13/Workzone-Ban-the-Box-gains-ground/stories/201310130056

"In the end companies must remain compliant," Almeida states "and understanding the laws and regulations is critical. Working with a third-party background screening company is critical as it is their job to stay current and, subsequently, keeping their clients current."

CriminalBackgroundRecords.com is a full-service third-party background screening company with access to a wide-variety of databases and county courts, and can provide the depth of information required to make a safe and thorough decision. With continued changes in the rules and regulations that police the use of public records for the purpose of employment, as well as other areas, using CriminalBackgroundRecords.com is smart choice, and a safe one.

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