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Background Screening Trends 2014: Ban-the-Box

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January 13, 2014 Return to News & Events

Background Screening Trends 2014: Ban-the-Box

Adam Almeida, President and CEO of states: “There will be a number of trends affecting the background screening industry in 2014: Key among those is the ban-the-box movement.”

Ban-the-Box is a movement spreading across the United States that will disallow questions about criminal history on an employment application. Depending on the jurisdiction the question about criminal history can reemerge at a later step in the pre-employment process.

Ban the box laws do not “require” employers to hire people with criminal convictions. Nor do they forbid employers from doing background checks. The laws merely put off the criminal history question, from the application-stage until later in the hiring process: until, say, the person has been deemed otherwise qualified for the job. Moreover, people with criminal convictions are typically barred by statute from law enforcement jobs and from other sensitive positions. This does not change under ban the box laws.

Adam Almeida, President and CEO of states: “As the Ban-the-Box movement gains momentum and continues to spread across the country, the lack of uniform legislative language will make the laws increasingly confusing.”

From (Nov. 20, 13; repost from

While these ban-the-box laws uniformly prohibit employers from inquiring into criminal history in the job application, they otherwise create a complex, legislative patchwork. Massachusetts and Seattle permit an inquiry into criminal history after the initial application. In Buffalo, Minnesota and Rhode Island, employers can ask about an applicant's criminal history at the first interview. In Philadelphia, employers must wait until after the first interview to ask about an applicant's criminal history. Finally, in Hawaii and Newark, employers must wait until after a conditional offer of employment has been made to inquire about criminal history.

Sides are being drawn on ban-the-box legislation.

An interview on NPR (Nov. 05, 13) states a key issue that businesses, especially smaller ones, will face.

But it can be a significant challenge for a small business owner - when you think about it - who rarely employs a human resource professional, to keep up with the ever-changing landscape - you know, changing federal, state and local laws now, too. And criminal checks provide a very necessary and important component in the hiring process for many businesses.

Almeida adds: “Ban-the-box legislation may be an expensive proposition for small business. They will not have the time, personnel, or resources to commit. Ban-the-box can be very confusing.”

From (Nov. 20, 13):

Those organizations that decide not to drop the criminal history question from their job application should take two steps to reduce the risk of liability. First, they should carefully review relevant laws in all jurisdictions where they recruit to confirm that the criminal history question as posed continues to be lawful. Second, they should closely track legislative developments, at both the state and municipal level, to make sure that their criminal history question continues to be lawful for as long as it remains on the job application.

In the end a company will have to make a decision about the use of a criminal history check as a part of the pre-employment screening process. And in 2014 the issue will become increasingly complex. As each jurisdiction - state, county, or city – creates its own unique version of ban-the-box legislation, the complexities for business will increase.

Almeida concludes: “The best thing a business can do in regards to ban-the-box legislation and the use of criminal histories as part of a pre-employment screening process is to work with a third-party background screening company. Third-party’s can be a significant resource to businesses of all sizes.” is a third-party background screening company that specializes in pre-employment background screening and the use of criminal histories. Their highly trained staff can assist a company of any size in developing a fully compliant and legal employment background screening program.

This has been a News Publication - All rights reserved is “An Information Enterprises Solution”

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