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Change in Ban-the-Box Law Highlight Challenges for Hiring Managers & HR Depts.; Opines

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December 10, 2020 Return to News & Events

Change in Ban-the-Box Law Highlight Challenges for Hiring Managers & HR Depts.; Opines

A recent modification in Montgomery County’s Ban-the-Box law highlights how laws governing the use of criminal history records can change quickly and, potentially, cause confusion to hiring managers and HR departments. Adam Almeida, President and CEO of, states: “Any jurisdiction, city, county, state, can create a Ban-the-Box law and each law can be significantly different from other similar laws and, additionally, create confusion regarding the legal use of Criminal History reports as a part of pre-employment background screening.”

Montgomery County recently upgraded an existing Ban-the-Box law, one that is more restrictive than those in nearby and neighboring cities and counties as well as the state of Maryland, thereby creating the potential for significant confusion with hiring managers and HR departments. Adam Almeida, President and CEO of states: “The action by Montgomery County highlights the challenges hiring and HR departments face daily with overlapping law and suggests the use of a well-qualified third-party pre-employment background screening agency, such as, remains a best practice.”

Recently, Montgomery County, in Maryland, updated an existing Ban-the-Box law. The new law creates greater restrictions and control regarding the use of criminal history questions on employment applications as well as the use of Criminal History records as a part of pre-employment background screening.

From on November 19, 2020:

Last week, the Montgomery County Council unanimously enacted Bill 35-20, Human Rights and Civil Liberties - Fair Criminal Record Screening Standards – Amendments, which aims to help prevent workplace discrimination by prohibiting background checks prior to the extension of a conditional offer of employment and preventing inquiries into certain types of arrests and convictions. Councilmember Will Jawando is the lead sponsor of this legislation.

Bill 35-20 expands the scope of the law by prohibiting background checks until after a conditional job offer has been extended. The bill also prevents inquiries about certain crimes altogether. In addition, it redefines “employer” to include any employer in the County, except certain types of employers such as those that provide services to minors or vulnerable adults. (1)

Almeida adds: “Any change to Ban-the-Box laws or any law related to pre-employment background screening should force a Hiring Manager and/or HR department to take immediate note.”

The change to the Montgomery County law creates a more restrictive environment regarding criminal history use.

From on December 1, 2020:

Effective February 19, 2021, Montgomery County’s Ban-the-Box law is becoming far more restrictive and will apply to all employers – not just those with 15 or more employees.

As employers with employees in Montgomery County, Maryland should know, Montgomery County had previously enacted a Ban-the-Box law that prohibited inquiries about an applicant’s arrest or conviction record until the end of the first interview. (The “Box” refers to the box, contained on many employment applications, that must be checked if the applicant has a criminal record.) This law has now been amended, with expansive new protections for applicants and employees of all Montgomery County employers. (2)

Almeida also highlights: “Hiring managers need to know that not all Ban-the-Box laws are created alike and, in fact, laws in the same state often can be significantly different from each other. The Montgomery County law is more restrictive than the state law in Maryland.”

From on November 26, 2020:

Notably, Bill 35-20 is more restrictive than Maryland's statewide ban-the-box law, which took effect on February 29, 2020. The statewide legislation currently applies to employers with 15 or more full-time employees and permits an employer to inquire about criminal history during the first interview. Montgomery County is one of three jurisdictions in Maryland where the ban-the-box law is more restrictive than the state law, the other two being Prince George's County and Baltimore City. (3)

Almeida concludes: “The change to the Montgomery County law perfectly highlights the need for businesses and organizations to work closely with a well-qualified third-party pre-employment background screening agency, such as, in order to maintain compliance with laws governing the use of criminal history records and other related public records.” is a third-party employment screening company, an advocate of SHRM, a member in good standing with the PBSA (Professional Background Screening Association) and for over 17 years has maintained an A+ Rating with the BBB (Better Business Bureau). The company has highly trained operators well versed in the needs and requirements of companies and organizations large and small utilizing public records, such as criminal background records, as part of a hiring process. Assisting companies in maintaining full compliance under the law is a central tenet of all client relationships with



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