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Ban the Box in the News!

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February 11, 2020 Return to News & Events

Ban the Box in the News!

Ban-the-Box is a legislative movement that governs when and if the question of criminal history can be asked of an individual applying for employment. Generally, an employment application will ask about criminal history and by checking the "box" the potential for discrimination against those that check the box is considered very high. Ban-the-Box laws are a method of decreasing discrimination and mandate the removal of the box. These laws also govern when the question of a criminal history can be discussed and, in some cases, whether it is a viable or legal question.

Over the last several years Ban-the-Box laws have spread across the country. A number cities, states, and businesses have implemented Ban-the-Box laws.

Most recently the city of St. Louis enacted their version of Ban-the-Box.

From JDSupra's website on February 4, 2020:

The St. Louis Ban the Box Ordinance (the “Ordinance”) will restrict private employers in their ability to base hiring or promotion decisions on an applicant’s criminal history. Covered employers that violate the Ordinance could lose their business license and, thus, compliance in this jurisdiction is critical. Such restrictions are not new to the St. Louis area. Indeed, in 2014, St. Louis banned city offices from requiring job applicants to disclose felony convictions, unless the position required a criminal background check. And, in 2018, the St. Louis County Executive issued a similar executive order for county applicants. (1)

Adam Almeida, President and CEO of, opines: "Every time Ban-the-Box legislation is implemented hiring managers and HR Departments should make sure their application and pre-employment screening process and policy is fully compliant with law. A best practice remains to work with a well-qualified third-party pre-employment background screening agency."

JDSupra's web post from February 4, 2020 adds:

Employers throughout the United States, and particularly multi-state employers, should continue to monitor developments in this and related areas of the law, including laws restricting the use of credit history information and fair credit reporting statutes, including the Fair Credit Reporting Act. (2)

Almeida states: "Third-party pre-employment screening agencies, such as, are a great source of information regarding local, state, and national laws governing the use of criminal record history in pre-employment background screening."

However, it should be noted that some experts see Ban-the-Box laws doing the exact opposite from what they are designed to do.

From the website on January 28, 2020:

...studies, and others, conclude that when employers are unable to find out about an applicant’s criminal history earlier in the hiring process, they assume the worst about African-American and other minority job candidates. Hiring managers may decide to avoid the hassle of potentially complying with ban the box laws by simply not considering these candidates. Therefore, these laws work to the disadvantage of individuals the law was designed to protect. (3)

Almeida concludes: "Clearly laws governing background screening can change, and change quickly. HR Departments and hiring managers should focus on the law and how it may impact their pre-employment policies. A best practice remains to work with a background screening agency in order to remain compliant with all laws governing pre-employment background screening." is a third-party background screening company with 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


  2. ibid

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